Normally, when a team holds a 15-point lead with five minutes left in the game, the game seems to be over. But I said normally. May 23, 2011 was not a normal day in the association as the Dallas Mavericks erased a 15 point deficit to win in OT against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
At that time, no team had blown a 15-point lead in a playoff game in in 15 years but nothing lasts forever.
Leading the series 2-1, the Mavericks had a great opportunity to put their foot on this young Thunder squad’s throat with a Game 4 victory and thats exactly what Dirk and the Mavs did, though it wasn’t easy.
Oklahoma City jumped out to a quick lead in the first quarter and had their grip on the lead for the entire game. Kevin Durant led the charge for the Thunder with 29 points and 15 rebounds but KD wasn’t the only superstar who stuffed the boxscore.
Introducing the Tall Baller from the G, Dirk Nowitzki. No matter who the Thunder threw at him, whether it was Serge Ibaka or Nick Collison, the ball was going through the hoop. Driving to the cup, hitting his signature fadeaway, or draining a long ball from downtown; Dirk was hitting from every spot on the floor.
Just like in Game 1 of the series, Nowitzki put the team on his shoulders and never looked back. Hitting the game-tying free throws before the end of regulation, the momentum had shifted as Dallas was surging. The Mavs put the pressure on Kevin Durant in the final minutes following James Harden fouling out of the game.
In overtime, Dallas overcame the the Chesapeake Arena crowd to outscore the Thunder 11-4, giving the Mavericks a 3-1 lead in the series. Dirk finished with 40 points on 12-20 shooting and drained 14-15 free throws. The key for Dallas besides the dominance from Nowitzki was their three-point defense as the Thunder only shot 2-13 from downtown.
Some would say that was the biggest game of Dirk’s career at that time. Overcoming a deficit like that to give Dallas a 3-1 as the hopes to returning to the mountain top present itself; just one of the many memorable games in Dirk’s legendary catalog.
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