Mavericks Top-5 Best Games of the Year: #3 Dirk Lifts Dallas Past Thunder in Overtime


#3 Mavericks 128, Thunder 119 FINAL/OT (March 25)

Even at the ripe age of 35, Mavericks fans still hold the distinction of Dirk Nowitzki as the main guy in Dallas. We still expect him to score at will and be the leading guy when it’s all-said-and-done. We still expect him to take every shot and the last shot. And when he takes that last shot, we still expect it to always go in.

This game was not one of those, buzzer-beater moments, but when the game was done, Dirk was the one guy that led the Mavs to another win. Even at his age, he can still wow us and come up with some of the most difficult, most clutch shots this game has ever seen.

The Thunder-Mavericks rivalry, rivalry being a rather generous word choice for Dallas, has been a one-sided affair for the past couple of seasons…in favor of the Thunder.

Dating back to the 2012 postseason, the Dallas Mavericks had lost 11 straight, and 12 of 13, against their I-35 rivals.

But the Mavericks got a rare win in Oklahoma City, 109-86 on March 16 that ended the drought. That was without Russell Westbrook.

Dallas was already deep into its franchise-record eight-game home stand, struggling to say the least as some people thought the Mavericks could really use it as a way to leap frog into the playoffs.

The Mavs would eventually end the home stand at a mediocre 4-4, but all eight games were exciting to watch, including their match up with the Thunder on March 25.

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 43 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 39 seconds left to put the Thunder up 111-108.

Jose Calderon, in his first year with Dallas, scored 22 points and the tying 3-pointer just 13 seconds later, right over Durant. Nowitzki tried to tie it from the right wing, but his miss was rebounded by Brandan Wright, who bolted a pass to an open Calderon, who finished 6-of-8 from three.

That’s a big reason why Mark Cuban signed Calderon in the offseason. Calderon is a very good point guard, but his true calling is his outside shots. He’s one of the better 3-point shooters in the league, finishing first in percentage last season when he played for the Raptors and Pistons.

Dallas would go on to outscore the Thunder 17-8 in the extra period, and scored nine of the first 11 points in overtime to pull away.

Nowitzki led seven players with a stat-filling 32 points, 10 boards, six dimes and four steals. He shot just 11-of-23 and 2-of-8 from downtown, but came up with the clutch baskets Mavs fans are accustomed to seeing.

One of his two treys included a big one in overtime as Nowitzki hit the wide-open shot to increase the Mavs’ lead. The Thunder followed with a timeout, leading an energized Nowitzki to rev up the American Airlines Center.

It was the first time in Dirk’s career that he reached those marks in a single game.

Monta Ellis added 17 points, five dimes and four steals. Ellis came in averaging 10 points in the fourth quarter in the previous four games. He scored 10 points after the third quarter, eight in the fourth.

Ellis had a quiet game, for his standards, scoring fewer than his season average, but this game just showed what Calderon can bring to this team. He might not be the quickest on the floor, but give him just enough space and he can drill a huge 3-pointer, something Cuban and fans knew they were getting when Dallas signed him last summer.

Calderon would go on to finish with the 5th-best percentage from three at 44.9 percent. His career-high 191 3-pointers made was good for 7th best. Last season, he shot 46.1 percent.

The win gave the Mavericks the season series with Oklahoma City, and kept Dallas alive for a playoff spot with the Suns and Grizzlies.