Dirk Nowitzki just seemed off.
Well, it didn’t look like that for the first few minutes of the game, when he had the Mavericks first six points including a ridiculous rainbow turnaround. Those shots had you thinking it could be one of those nights for the perfect German scoring machine.
Then he fell apart, hitting just one of his next 11 shots. Missing open looks, and at times looking lethargic.
Then we found out why — he was playing through a triple-digit temperature. ABC sideline reporter Doris Burke reported it first, then after the game Tyson Chandler confirmed in his post game interview that Dirk was dragging himself through shootaround and the game.
But from the four minute mark on, Nowitzki scored four of the final six points for Dallas. Two on free throws (although he finally missed one in this series after hitting 39 straight — he must be sick) and two on one of the dagger plays of the game, a drive to his right around Udonis Haslem and a scoop layup with 14 seconds left.
He finished with 21 points and 11 boards. It’s not the Jordan flu game by any stretch, but Dallas can’t win if they don’t get something good from Nowitzki. This is not a team with multiple stars. Nowitzki must step up every game.
And despite a triple-digit fever he did. And because he did this series is tied 2-2.