Dirk Nowitzki with game-winning strip of James Harden to save Mavericks victory (VIDEO)

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With the game on the line, the Dallas Mavericks turned to Dirk Nowitzki… for his defense?

Nowitzki made the game saving play on that end. The possession before he had missed a tough wing fadeaway, which left Dallas up 86-85 with 30 seconds left. Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff made a calculated risk, he didn’t call a timeout to set up a play, in part because Dallas would have made a substitution to get a true rim protector on the court and sit Nowitzki.

Houston’s play ended with James Harden driving past Wesley Matthews in isolation out top, and has Harden got into the lane Nowitzki stepped up as the help defender and made a clean strip of James Harden as he went up to shoot. (I saw a Rocket fan calling for a foul on the play, no way — the hand on the ball is part of the ball. That was clean.)

Dallas hung on to win 88-86 after a couple of free throws, giving the Mavericks a two-game lead over Houston with four to play.