Dallas Mavericks All Star forward Dirk Nowitzki didn’t do much in his team’s Western Conference Finals opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder—except score. And score, and score and score some more. Nowitzki torched the Thunder for 48 points, setting a playoff record in the process as the Mavericks eluded Oklahoma City 121-112 on May 17 in Game One of the Western Finals to take a 1-0 series lead. The sweet-shooting seven-foot forward converted 24 straight free throw attempts and fell just one attempt shy of tying the record of the least amount of field goals attempted to reach 40 points in a postseason game.

“I was really looking to shoot early and was able to get my rhythm after the first couple of shots,” Nowitzki told reporters after the game. “I kept attacking and my teammates kept feeding me and feeding me and I was able to take advantage over some smaller players.”

At times, the Dallas star was simply breathtaking, converting shot after shot both off and on the free throw line. Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant tried his best to counter Nowitzki’s heroics, going off for 40 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but whenever the Thunder got close, Dallas would come up with another huge basket.

“We can’t get discouraged,” said Durant. “He’s going to make shots. He’s going to make off-balanced shots with a hand in his face.”

Dallas led by as many as 15 points in the final quarter but Oklahoma cut the lead to just six with 48 seconds remaining. Mavericks guard Jason Terry (24 points) then nailed a three pointer on the following possession to ice the game and help Dallas protect their home court advantage. Game Two is Thursday, May 19 at Dallas’ American Airlines Center at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO