Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Dirk Nowitzki wandered
By Henry Abbott
Jason Terry missed two 3s that would have tied the game at the end of the fourth quarter of Game 2. They were both decent looks, and Terry has a track record of above average performance with the ball in his hands and the game on the line.
But it sure is too bad wide-open Dirk Nowitzki didn't get a crack at that second 3. And ... why didn't he get that opportunity again?
The video shows Nowitzki has nobody but himself to blame. His crime? Simply wandering toward the hoop when he was wide open and his team needed a quick 3.
When Terry launched his first 3, the Thunder's Serge Ibaka smelled a rebounding opportunity and headed off for his more comfortable environment in the paint.
In doing so, Ibaka made a mistake that could have been fatal: He abandoned Nowitzki on the perimeter. Nowitzki would play the final six seconds of the game unguarded. Forget the fact that he had missed a couple of shots just before. That's still Dirk. Leaving him all alone is still like releasing your grip on a deadly snake. Once you lose track of it, all you can do is pray it doesn't bite.
But watch what Dirk does: He wanders inside the 3-point line a few steps. Players are drawn to the ball like moths to flames. He would have looked like a genius had the rebound come to him. But that's not what happened.
Three young Oklahoma players crashed the boards, but somehow an aging Vince Carter was first to the ball, getting hands on leather with four seconds on the clock. As he landed, knowing the Mavericks needed a 3 -- and fast -- he looked to the perimeter.
Jason Kidd was wide open behind the 3-point line. He made 35 percent of his shots from 3 this year, and a blistering 43 percent a couple of years ago, and he wanted the ball. (After not getting it, stayed rooted in place, arms in full hang-dog pout, absorbing the loss.)
Terry, meanwhile, is a 38 percent 3-point shooter -- this season, and over his career. Carter fired Terry the pass, even though two Thunder defenders Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook, were in range.
Meanwhile, Nowitzki shoots as well as Terry and was the most open of the bunch, especially when you consider that as a seven-footer, he has a shot that's not likely to be bothered by any of the smallish Thunder players (Westbrook, most likely) with a hope of reaching him.
But there was an excellent reason why Carter didn't look at Nowitzki: He was in no position to shoot a quick 3. By the time Nowitzki scrambled back behind the line and called for the ball, Terry was in his shooting motion and the clock was the enemy. Terry shot from a full step behind the line, over two defenders, with the predictable result.
Like a lot of things for the Mavericks this season ... just a few little things here or there, and the outcome could have been completely different.