Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Nowitzki has record-breaking night in win
By ESPN Stats & Info
Dirk Nowitzki scored 48 points, his sixth career 40-point playoff game, finishing two points shy of his playoff career high.
Among active players, only Shaquille O’Neal (12), Kobe Bryant (11) and LeBron James (nine) have more career 40-point playoff games.
Nowitzki set an NBA record by going 24-for-24 from the free throw line, the most free throws made in a single game without a miss -- regular season or postseason.
He drew fouls from seven different Thunder defenders, including all five of Serge Ibaka’s. Dirk went 7-for-9 when guarded by Ibaka, including 6-for-8 on post-up plays.
Combining field goal attempts and free throw attempts, the ball left Dirk Nowitzki's hand 39 times tonight; 36 of those times it went in the hoop.
Nowitzki attempted just 15 shots, the second-fewest field goal attempts in a 40-point playoff game in NBA history.
Only Terry Porter, back in 1992 for the Portland Trail Blazers, needed fewer attempts (41 points on 14 attempts) to reach the 40-point plateau. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Nowitzki's field-goal percentage of 80.0 (12-15) is tied for the highest ever in a conference finals game (minimum 15 FGA).
Nowitzki's Game 1 effort certainly outshone that of his superstar counterpart, but it shouldn't take away from what Kevin Durant accomplished Tuesday.
Durant managed his third 40-point game of this postseason, and pushed his career scoring average in series openers to 34.5 points per game, the highest among active players (minimum three games played).
The combined efforts of Nowitzki and Durant were a rarity. Tuesday marked just the third time that opposing players each scored at least 40 points in Game 1 of a playoff series. The last time it happened was the 2001 NBA Finals, when Allen Iverson scored 48 points for the Philadelphia 76ers in an overtime win against O'Neal (44 points) and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Durant had to work hard for his points Tuesday, receiving the bulk of his passes behind the three-point line. He scored just one more point in that situation than when he got the ball inside the three-point line, despite having twice as many opportunities.
He was most efficient when he cut out the middle man and brought the ball up court himself (3-4 FG, 6-6 FT, 13 points).
J.J. Barea recorded his second career 20-point playoff game (his second in as many games) to help the Mavericks get their first conference finals win since 2006 when they made the NBA Finals. They've won Game 1 of each of their three playoff series this postseason. Since losing Game 4 of the first round to the Portland Trail Blazers, they've won seven straight.