Nowitzki scored 10 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter Thursday night, helping the Mavs build a big enough lead to withstand a wild yet predictable Clippers comeback. He was 3-of-5 from the floor in the final frame, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
By comparison, Nowitzki scored a total of only 10 points on 2-of-17 shooting in the fourth quarters of the Mavs’ three losses to the Clippers this season.
What was the difference? Dirk didn’t have to work too hard for his shots in the fourth quarter this time.
“We didn’t run that much post-ups and iso where I’ve just got to grind and grind,” Nowitzki said. “We tried to keep the game moving, and I thought we did a good job with that.”
Nowitzki’s first bucket of the fourth did come off a high-effort iso. He caught the ball a step above the free throw line, faced up against Glen “Big Baby” Davis and drove left before pulling up and knocking down a tightly contested fadeaway.
But his two 3-pointers in the fourth were of the minimal-effort variety. Nowitzki simply spotted up on the left wing while Devin Harris and Brandan Wright ran a pick-and-roll on the other side of the floor. When Harris saw Nowitzki’s defender cheating, he whipped a cross-court pass to one of the game’s premier catch-and-shoot players, and Nowitzki knocked down the open looks.
Those 3s made up the majority of the 10-0 run that gave the Mavs the lead for good.
“We had a nice little run there,” said Nowitzki, who finished off his scoring by making a couple of free throws in the final minute. “We ran the same play actually, a side screen-and-roll with Devin. Myself and Vince [Carter] were on the weak side. When they sucked in, Vince made a 3, I made two 3s. When they didn’t suck in, B. Wright had a good finish on the roll.
“That was a good lineup right there and it gave us a little cushion. And we needed every single point of that cushion.”