Dirk Nowitzki proved on Saturday against the Chicago Bulls that he still has what it takes to be an elite player in the league. The Dallas Mavericks entered the game desperately needing a win to keep playoff hopes alive. After getting destroyed by the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night, Dallas would need someone to step up.
Nowitzki decided to be that someone. Scoring 20 points in the first half, Nowitzki went 8 – 8 from the field including two 3-pointers. Being held scoreless in the third quarter, though, Nowitzki saved the best for last. He scored 15 points in the final quarter as Dallas beat the Bulls 100 – 98.
Perhaps more impressive, though, is the fact that with 4:08 left in the game, Dallas trailed 97 – 85. A Carlos Boozer free throw is all Chicago could muster in the final four minutes while Dallas scored 15. Dirk made the final eight points for the Mavericks as they, once again, climbed within one game of shaving the beards.
Dirk finished with five 3-pointers in the game – the last one being the most critical. With the Mavericks trailing by one point, Dirk hit a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left in the game to seal the comeback and the win for the Mavericks.
The win puts Dallas 1.5 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot. It also puts them one game back from .500 – the mark they need before they can shave off the lumberjack beards. Tuesday night, Dallas will try to shave both another game off the standings and the beards as they play the Lakers.