Dirk Nowitzki Proves He Has Plenty Left in the Tank


There have been rumblings. Whispers that no Mavericks fan liked to hear, but couldn’t escape from. Is Dirk Nowitzki finally showing his age? Has he been diminished to second-fiddle come crunch time?

Nowitzki may be slowing down a tad. Who could fault him? He’s 36-years old and in his 17th NBA season. But any decrease in production is negligible. Sure his scoring is down three points from last season, when he averaged 21.7 a night. And yes, he’s been in a bit of a shooting slump as of late, shooting just 44% from the field since December 1st.

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But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. He’s taking fewer shots, more a result of the talent around him than anything else, and though his efficiency has decreased from last season his PER is just percentage points behind fellow veteran big man Tim Duncan, and is hovering right outside the league’s top-20.

And yes, Monta Ellis has been doing most of the damage for Dallas down the stretch of games (with fantastic results) but Nowitzki is still capable of being the go-to-guy if need be. He proved that with a brilliant finish to the win in Memphis. It was vintage Nowitzki.

He scored the team’s final eight points in the 103-95 victory, closing out the division-leading Grizzlies with a flurry of his famous facilities.

With Dallas up 95-93 Nowitzki threw a shot fake at Marc Gasol at the three-point line and drove left. When Mike Conley Jr. sagged in to close off the driving lane Nowitzki decided it was an opportune time for a ridiculous, step-back, one-legged fadeway from the elbow. Swish.

On the Mavericks’ next possession Nowitzki slipped a screen, leaving Gasol in his wake, and received a pass from Ellis for an easy lay-in. Mavericks up six.

After that it was Nowitzki in the mid-post after forcing a switch by swingman Courtney Lee. Lee is a solid defender, but didn’t have a chance. He even received some late help from Jeff Green. But there’s not much one can do when a seven-footer is capable of hitting an absurd fallaway over two outstretched defenders.

His two free-throws iced the game for the Mavericks, wrapping up an impressive road win. It was just the fifth loss of the season at home for the Grizzlies, who own the third-best record at home and overall in the stacked western conference. Nowitzki scored 21 points, 10 in the fourth quarter.

So write Nowitzki off all you want. He’s still one of the best power forwards around, capable of taking over a game in crunch time against top competition.

Next: How Far Will Dirk Climb the All-Time Scoring List?