It was just a week ago that the unthinkable happened. Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, who leads the entire NBA in free throw percentage, missed two of three crucial free throw attempts after being fouled on a three-point attempt.
That game against the Los Angeles Clippers resulted in a seemingly backbreaking loss. Nowitzki was dejected after the game, barely able to speak. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle the very next day at practice was still in disbelief: “Very unusual.” Carlisle added then that “we’re not likely to see that again for maybe a few more years.”
A lot can change in a week, though.
In what can only be called an absolute thriller against those same Clippers at the Staples Center last night, Nowitzki was fouled with just 17.9 seconds remaining and the Mavericks leading 109-107. On the road, in a hostile environment, still with an acrid taste in his mouth from last week, a fed up Nowitzki scored his 25th and 26th points on the night to ice the game for the Mavericks.
“We really needed this win,” Nowitzki said to TNT’s Craig Sager after the game.
The Mavericks, who slaughtered the Clippers from beyond the arc with a 14-for-29 night, obviously did not prove they are the better team. The Mavericks, as Nowitzki said after the game, are “fighting for our playoffs lives” and simply needed this game way more than Chris Paul and his band mates did.
However, what was unequivocally proven last night is those late missed free throws last week from Nowitzki were a complete aberration.