|Dirk's a dud as Mavericks get bounced in first round|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 03 May 2007 20:05|
The league's probable Most Valuable Player came up small when his team needed a big effort and will have to watch the rest of the playoffs on television following Dallas' 111-86 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
The 67 regular-season wins and spectacular stats that made Nowitzki the favorite to win the league's MVP award will be mere footnotes on his season. The lasting memory for most fans will be the missed shot after missed shot he put up in Game 6 when the Mavericks, the overall No. 1 seed, were eliminated in the first round.
Nowitzki finished 2-for-13 from the field with eight points, unable to prevent the NBA's biggest playoff upset ever. Nowitzki didn't make his first shot until the final minute of the first half. By the time he made his second, Dallas was already down 23 points.
That memorable comeback Nowitzki engineered at home at the end of Game 5 was all for naught. The Mavericks were the best team to ever lose a first-round series. No team that had won 65 games in a season had ever lost its opening round.
Nowitzki had 12 points to spark Dallas' closing 15-0 run in the 118-112 Game 5 win, a victory that gave the Mavericks life for two more days. But he couldn't follow it up with another clutch performance and ended the series averaging 19.7 points while shooting 38 percent against his former coach Don Nelson.
Nelson knew just the right buttons to push against Nowitzki, sending double teams his way at every dribble and frustrating him at every turn. Nowitzki sat on the bench expressionless as the Warriors celebrated in the final minutes of the blowout.
This series was a far cry from Nowitzki's postseason success last year, when he led Dallas past San Antonio in the second round and scored 50 points in a key Game 5 win over Phoenix in the conference finals. The Mavericks wound up losing in the finals to the Miami Heat, but came back so focused this season that they won 67 games, sixth-most in league history, and 25 more than the Warriors, who needed a 9-1 finish just to make the playoffs.
The Mavericks became the third No. 1 seed to lose in the first round since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams and the first since the opening round became a best-of-seven in 2003.