Stats & Info: Dirk Nowitzki

Picking the most clutch in NBA playoffs

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
With the NBA playoffs starting Saturday, we’re bound to see tight games and pressure-packed situations. The question then becomes, whose hands do you want the ball in?

The top chart above shows each playoff team’s leader in clutch-time usage percentage this season, along with his true shooting percentage (which weighs three-point field goals greater and accounts for free throw shooting). Clutch-time is defined as situations in which the game is within five points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime.

The bottom chart shows each of those 16 players’ overall Player Efficiency Rating along with his PER in clutch-time situations.

Kevin Durant less efficient
Kevin Durant
First, no playoff team leans more on a player in clutch time than the Oklahoma City Thunder do with Kevin Durant. He’s the only one of the 16 who has a clutch-time usage percentage over 40 percent, and Durant’s is nearing 46 percent. However, his efficiency numbers drop off in crunch-time, as his PER drops from nearly 30 in all situations to just over 25 in crunch-time. That's still above league average, but it's below average among these 16 "go-to" guys.

His main opponent for league MVP, LeBron James, increases his already-high efficiency numbers in crunch-time, despite the Miami Heat leaning on him heavily.

Harden: Mister Clutch?
James Harden
Watch out for the Houston Rockets and James Harden. Harden has the highest clutch-time efficiency rating of the 16 players, with the second-highest usage rate. Mike Conley also ups his performance in crunch-time, which could put the Thunder on upset alert if the Memphis Grizzlies point guard gets hot late in their series.

Sticking with the Western Conference, Stephen Curry has hit all 31 of his crunch-time free throws this year, but has shot just 28 percent from 3-point range for the Golden State Warriors in those situations.

Who could struggle
Despite the Brooklyn Nets second-half surge, their clutch-time leader, Joe Johnson, is the worst of the 16 team leaders in terms of PER. LaMarcus Aldridge has also struggled in crunch-time for the Portland Trail Blazers, with an effective field goal percentage of 33 percent.

One of the main takeaways is that the crunch-time leader for the eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks is not former NBA season and Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki, but instead Monta Ellis, who has taken possessions at a slightly-higher rate than Nowitzki.

Nowitzki beats buzzer, topping Melo's 44

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
Dirk Nowitzki
Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 44 points, but it was Dirk Nowitzki with the last laugh, getting a shooter's bounce to beat the buzzer in the Dallas Mavericks' 110-108 win against the New York Knicks on Monday.

The buzzer-beating field goal was the third for Nowitzki in the past 12 seasons. His first came on Jan. 19, 2009 against the Philadelphia 76ers. And his last one prior to Monday was on Nov. 16, 2009 against the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime.

It's the first buzzer-beater for a visiting player at Madison Square Garden since Kevin Garnett beat the buzzer on Nov. 22, 2009 in a Boston Celtics victory.

Nowitzki finished with 15 points on 6-of-13 from the field - but his game-winning field goal accounted for his only fourth-quarter points.

Nowitzki's heroics overshadowed yet another high-scoring performance from Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony reached the 40-point mark for the third time in his past four games. It was his fifth game with at least 40 points this season, behind Kevin Durant's nine.

Over the past two seasons, Anthony has reached the 40-point mark five times in games his team ultimately lost. That's the most such games in the NBA over that span.

Three of those games have been this season. In fact, just one player in Knicks history has had more 40-point games in a loss in a single season.

Seven of Bernard King’s 40-point games in the 1984-85 season were in losing efforts.

Anthony actually started slowly Monday, finishing with nearly as many turnovers (three) as he did points (five) in the opening quarter.

But over the next two quarters, Anthony combined for 31 points with just one turnover. He added eight points in the fourth quarter to round out his 44-point effort.

Anthony is averaging 41.3 points per game in his past four games. In February, he’s averaging 32.5 points, good for third in the NBA this month behind Kevin Love and Durant.

With the loss, the Knicks have dropped three straight, and now sit seven games back in the loss column behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Top stats to know: NBA All-Star Weekend

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
This weekend marks the 63rd NBA All-Star Game, with the league’s top players gathering in New Orleans for an entertaining basketball weekend.

The Eastern Conference leads the all-time series 36-26, but the West has won three straight games (Chris Paul won his MVP last year). The current three-game win streak is tied for the West’s longest all-time (also won three straight spanning 2002-04).

What else should you know about All-Star Weekend?

James & Durant
LeBron James was the leading overall vote-getter with 1,416,419 votes, followed closely by Kevin Durant, who finished with 1,396,294.

Durant has scored 30 or more points in three straight All-Star games, the longest 30-point streak in All-Star Game history.

His career scoring average of 28.8 points per game in the All-Star game is currently the best all-time. James ranks second at 25.1 points.

James has already scored the fifth-most career points in All-Star Game history.

The Big 3
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the fourth trio of teammates in NBA history to be selected to four straight All-Star games.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the last trio to do so was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy from 1985-86 to 1988-89. The trio with the most consecutive All-Star selections was John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and Jo Jo White, with six.

Another type of ‘Big 3’
Paul George, John Wall and Damian Lillard were each selected to the All-Star game and the Slam Dunk contest. It’s the first time since 1988 in which three All-Stars will compete in both the All-Star game and the Slam Dunk contest (Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Clyde Drexler).

Lillard is scheduled to participate in five events and would be the first player to do so dating back to 2003 (the first year of the Skills Competition).

Lillard has already broken the record for most 3-point field goals made over a player’s first two seasons in the NBA and will try to upend defending 3-point champ Kyrie Irving.

Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are the first pair of Trail Blazers teammates to be selected to the All-Star Game since 1993-94 (Drexler and Clifford Robinson).

No Kobe, No Lakers
This is the first time since 1996 that a Los Angeles Lakers player won’t play in the All-Star game (Kobe Bryant was selected but is out with a knee injury).

Bryant’s replacement, Anthony Davis, is averaging 20.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks this season. The last player to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in a single season was Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-00.

But a former Laker will be there
When Dwight Howard takes the court this All-Star game, he'll become the first player in NBA history to play in three straight All-Star games, each representing a different team (2011-12 Orlando Magic, 2012-13 Lakers, 2013-14 Houston Rockets).

Allen Iverson is the only other player in NBA history that was selected to three straight All-Star games with a different team but he did not play in one of those games.

First timers
There are six first-time All-Stars this year -- Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Damian Lillard, Paul Millsap and John Wall.

Curry is set to become the first Golden State Warriors starter in the All-Star game since Latrell Sprewell in 1995. He is currently in the top five in both points and assists per game.

The last player to finish a season in the top five in both of those categories was Tiny Archibald in 1975-76.

The lone Maverick
Dirk Nowitzki has now been selected to the All-Star game 12 times. On eight of those occasions, he was the only member of his team that was selected. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that only Michael Jordan (9) and Patrick Ewing (9) were their teams' lone All-Star selections more times than Nowitzki.

Dunking time
Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors will try to defend his slam-dunk title. He’s trying to become the fourth player to win back-to-back dunk-contest titles, along with Michael Jordan (1987 and 1988), Jason Richardson (2002 and 2003) and Nate Robinson (2009 and 2010).

Nowitzki, Mavericks 'post' win streak

January, 18, 2013

Glenn James/NBAE/Getty ImagesDirk Nowitzki's improved play in the post has helped the Mavericks to a four-game win streak.
The Dallas Mavericks are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, but they’re riding a four-game winning streak into tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (ESPN, 9:30 ET).

During the win streak, they’ve slowed down their pace just a bit and increased their offensive efficiency, to a level that’s better than the Thunder’s league-leading efficiency this season.

They’ve also improved their defensive efficiency by more than five points per 100 possessions -- they were 25th in the league before the win streak and are sixth during it.

A lot of the Mavericks’ offensive woes were due to struggles in their half-court offense. They’ve increased their half-court scoring from 0.85 points per play before the streak to 0.95 in the past four games -- that would rank fifth in the NBA this season.

Dirk Nowitzki’s impact
Dirk Nowitzki has played only 13 games this season but the Mavs have been rolling as he’s looked more like himself. He’s averaging 33.5 minutes per game in his past four, up from 26.6 in his first nine games, and has cut his turnovers per game by more than half.

During their four-game win streak, the Mavericks have made an astonishing 32-point improvement per 100 possessions with Nowitzki on the court, with similar improvements on both the offensive and defensive ends.

Dirk’s improvement in his post play has been the catalyst for both him and the team. He’s shooting 50 percent and averaging more than a point per play in the post during the streak, up from 36 percent and 0.75 in his first nine games.

Stat to Watch
Of the Mavericks' 40 games this season, the score has been within three points in the final 30 seconds 23 of them -- they are 7-16 in those games.

That includes the first meeting between these teams this season, in Nowitzki’s second game back. The Mavericks got a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer from Darren Collison to send it into overtime, but Russell Westbrook scored eight points in the extra session, outscoring Dallas by himself to give the Thunder a six-point win.

James and Durant deliver differently

June, 12, 2012

Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesJames attacked the basket far more than Durant, but Durant owned the perimeter this season.
Three-time NBA MVP LeBron James and three-time defending scoring champion Kevin Durant will go head-to-head in the NBA Finals (ABC and ESPN3, 9 ET), making it the 12th time in NBA Finals history that a matchup involved players who finished 1-2 in the MVP voting for that season.

James leads the Miami Heat into the Finals for the second consecutive season, making it his third-career Finals appearance overall. Durant will make his first-career Finals appearance, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the franchise’s first championship round since they were the Seattle SuperSonics in 1996.

As dynamic as these two prolific scorers are, they record their points in different ways. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of each player’s strengths and the history of the matchup.

Easy Baskets

During the regular season, James attacked the basket more than Durant. Among the 1,683 total points James scored, 37.4 percent occurred within five feet of the basket. Only 24.1 percent of Durant’s baskets were scored within that range.

Inside the paint, James was one of the league’s leaders. He recorded 12.2 points per game in the paint, the fourth-highest average among all players this season.

Perimeter Shooting

On the perimeter, Durant has the edge. Of his NBA-high 1,850 total points, 43.4 percent of Durant’s points were scored outside of the paint. By comparison, James only recorded 31.9 percent of his points from outside that area.

Also, Durant is the better pure shooter. From 15 feet and beyond, Durant connected on 42.5 percent of his field goals, trailing only Dirk Nowitzki (44.8) and Chris Paul (42.6) among players that ranked in the top 20 in scoring during the regular season.

The Real Help

James might play alongside former Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, but Durant has benefited the most from his team’s point guard play. Overall, 48.1 percent of Durant’s field goals were assisted during the regular season, compared to just 37.4 percent of James’ field goals.

Much of that was a result of Durant playing alongside All-Star guard Russell Westbrook. Although Westbrook isn’t viewed much as a distributor, he assisted on 171 of Durant’s field goals, the third-most assists by one player on a single teammate’s field goals in the NBA this season. Only Steve Nash (217 to Marcin Gortat) and Chris Paul (187 to Blake Griffin) assisted more of a teammate’s field goals.

History Dominated by James

Game 1 will be the 10th meeting between James and Durant, with the previous nine coming in the regular season. Durant holds the scoring edge with a 27.3 points average, but James has been more efficient from the field shooting 49.7 percent. Overall, James has dominated the most important category, winning seven of the nine meetings. The Heat and Thunder split the 2011-12 regular season series 1-1.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

Bubba Watson
1. BUBBA WATSON IS MASTERFUL: Bubba Watson defeats Louis Oosthuizen in the second playoff hole to win the Masters Tournament and his first major championship. It was the first time since 2009 and the 15th time overall that a playoff decided the Masters. Watson becomes the 14th different winner in the last 14 majors and the second straight American winner. He moves into fourth in the new Official World Golf Ranking. Watson won the tournament despite not being in the final pairing. It’s the second-straight year that the winner did not come from the final pairing. Prior to last year, the winner came from the final pairing in 19 of 20 years.

2. MELO IS CLUTCH: Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 43 points, making the game-tying three-point FG in regulation and the game-winning three-point FG in OT as the New York Knicks beat the Chicago Bulls 100-99. FROM ELIAS: He is the fifth player in the last five seasons, and the first since Dirk Nowitzki in 2009 to make a game-tying shot in the last 15 seconds in regulation, then make the game-winning shot in the last 15 seconds in OT. Anthony has gone 24-52 from the field in game-tying or go-ahead situations in the last 15 seconds of fourth quarter/OT over the last 10 seasons. Among players that have taken at least 20 field goal attempts over that span, Anthony ranks first in field goal percentage (46.2). His 24 field goals are second to Kobe Bryant who has 26 (26-86, 30.2 FG pct for Bryant).

3. TIGERS USE RARE COMEBACK TO SWEEP RED SOX: Miguel Cabrera hit a game-tying three-run home run in the ninth inning and Alex Avila hit a two-run walk-off home run in the 11th inning to give the Detroit Tigers a 13-12 win over the Boston Red Sox to complete the three-game sweep. FROM ELIAS: This is the first time that the Red Sox have ever lost a game in which they held multiple-run leads twice in the ninth inning or later and it's the second time that the Tigers have won a game in this fashion, the first since September 28, 1929 against the Chicago White Sox.

4. YANKEES & RED SOX IN UNFAMILIAR PLACE: Jeremy Hellickson pitched 8 2/3 innings of shutout ball as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 3-0. The Yankees join the Red Sox with an 0-3 start. It’s the second time that they’ve both started a season 0-3. The other instance was in 1966 when the Red Sox started 0-5 and the Yankees started 0-3. That season, the Red Sox finished 72-90 while the Yankees finished 70-89.

5. MUCH ANTICIPATED MLB DEBUT: Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish will make his MLB Regular Season Debut Monday. Darvish will face the Seattle Mariners and likely face fellow Japanese superstar Ichiro in the first inning. Darvish was 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in 7 seasons in Japan.
Statistically speaking, the Miami Heat put on a performance Friday night that was akin to what you might see in a game like NBA Jam.

The Heat’s 14 dunks are the most they’ve had in any game in the past five seasons. All but one were by either Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. That was the most dunks the Heat have had in any game this season by a wide margin. Their next-most was 10 against the New York Knicks on January 27.

Those dunks in turn led to a season-high 64 points in the paint, including their first 18 of the game. The Heat’s Big Three was 23-for-32 from inside five feet.

Wade, James, and Bosh each made 11 field goals and shot over 60 percent from the field. Elias notes that the last trio to each shoot better than 60 percent AND make at least 11 shots from the field was Al Jefferson, Paul Pierce, and Tony Allen for the Boston Celtics in the 2006-07 season.

Elsewhere around the league the Dallas Mavericks entered its game against the Orlando Magic having won five straight road meetings. The longest current winning streak any team had against the Magic in Orlando.

Dwight Howard did his part to stop the streak with 19 points and 15 rebounds, marking his 42nd double-double this season (second-most in the NBA).

The Mavericks trailed most of the game even by as many as seven points entering the fourth quarter. However their defense forced the Magic into poor shooting and turnovers in the final period, which ultimately spelled doom for Orlando. The Magic shot just 35 percent from the field while turning it over six times.

The Mavericks took advantage of those mistakes, scoring nine points off of turnovers in the fourth quarter.

The final blow to the Magic was Dirk Nowitzki hitting the game-winning jumper with 5.9 seconds left.

Elias says it was the 11th time in his NBA career that Nowitzki made a game-winning basket in the final 10 seconds of a game, and the second time this season. Seven of Nowitzki’s 11 such hoops came on the road, including each of the last three.

The Mavericks are now 75-31 (.708) against Eastern Conference teams since Rick Carlisle took over as the team’s head coach in 2008. That is the highest inter-conference winning percentage for any team in the league over that span.

Number of the Night
The Celtics took over first place in the Atlantic Division with a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves and loss by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Washington Wizards. The 76ers had a share of first place for 93 straight days.

They entered first place on December 28, and held at least a share every day until Friday night.

Statistical support for this story from