How it happened: Dirk Nowitzki proved he can still slam the door on a contender.
Nowitzki dominated the overtime period to carry the Mavs to a much-needed upset over the Los Angeles Clippers in a wild game that featured a Western Conference playoff-intensity feel.
Nowitzki scored eight of his season-high 33 points in the extra period. His 16-footer with 3:28 remaining gave the Mavs a lead that they never relinquished.
The Mavs had to overcome a phenomenal clutch flurry by perennial All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who scored the Clippers’ last 10 points in regulation. That offensive outburst by Paul, who matched Nowitzki with a game-high 33 points, lasted 4:13 and ended with a go-ahead floater in traffic with 5.3 seconds remaining.
But O.J. Mayo answered by driving past Paul on the baseline and hitting a crafty left-handed layup to tie it up with 0.6 ticks on the clock. The game went into overtime after Blake Griffin’s bucket off a full-court, inbound pass from Matt Barnes was wiped out due to Griffin pushing Nowitzki before catching the ball.
Paul drilled a midrange jumper on the Clippers’ first overtime possession, but that was Los Angeles’ last bucket of the game until 6.7 seconds remained. The Clippers’ lone points in the final 4:17 came on a DeAndre Jordan free throw and a Griffin jumper in the final seconds. The Clippers missed seven straight shots from the floor, none of which were attempted by Paul.
Barnes air-balled a 3-pointer that would have tied the game with 22.9 seconds remaining.
Nowitzki scored the Mavs’ first eight overtime points, going 3-of-3 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the free throw line before Darren Collison sealed the win with four free throws.
What it means: The Mavs (35-36) are a win away from shaving those .500 beards, and, more importantly, only one game behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers in the West standings. The Mavs have won nine of the past 12 games to breathe life into their playoff hopes. They’re now 2-13 against the top five teams in the West this season.
Play of the game: Nowitzki’s overtime heroics wouldn’t have been possible without Mayo’s game-tying drive in the final seconds of regulation. Mayo spun past Paul on the baseline, dribbling with his right hand, took off with his right foot, twisted his body to get a good angle and dropped in a lefty layup off the glass.
Stat of the night: With his second bucket of the night, Nowitzki moved past Patrick Ewing into 17th place on the all-time scoring list. Nowitzki has 24,845 points and counting.