With Caron Butler out with a reaction to medications he took, and Erick Dampier still in street clothes, the Mavericks were playing shorthanded.
They were able to rise to the occasion.
The AA Center came alive in the fourth quarter and made the game feel like a playoff-style atmosphere.
The marquee read Dirk vs Kobe.
Feeding off the crowd, Dirk Nowitzki provided a great show for the home crowd. The foundation stood tall, as Kidd, Dirk, and Terry provided a spectacular show. Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 31 points, followed closely by Terry with 30 points.
The shorthanded Mavericks were able to outlast the Lakers in a hard fought game. Neither team really shot well, but the physicality created playoff fought scars. A hard fought game against a Finals favorite will only help this team come playoff time.
The Maverick players looked exhausted after the game. “I wouldn’t expect it any other way,” Shawn Marion sighed as he leaned back in his chair in front of his locker. He added, “It felt like a playoff game.”
Jason Kidd shrugs off that this game was any more important than the others. “Big win, but we can’t rest on this one.” Kidd continues to provide his veteran leadership in everything that he does. Whether on the defensive side of the court, the quarterback on offense, or in the locker room as the level headed, steady emotional leader.
Despite passing Reggie Miller on the all-time scoring list, Kobe Bryant scored a quiet 20 points. Matched against DeShawn Stevenson to start off the game, and Shawn Marion down the stretch, Kobe seemed off all night.
Brendan Haywood believes this was more than just another game. “This gives us confidence. We know we can play with the best.”
Punch for punch, the Mavericks stood up to the pounding and were the ones standing victorious at the end. No question this gives a team still learning how to play with each other, and discovering roles in the midst of a playoff push.
There will be plenty more big games though, so maybe Kidd is onto something.