Dirk Nowitzki did everything for the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, but after leading his team back from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Dirk shifted the focus to his teammates. Even though he had every reason to thump his chest after leading an epic comeback in the final minutes, Nowitzki stopped short.
In his postgame press conference (transcript here), Dirk wanted to talk about his teammates. "I's just a bunch of veterans with a lot of unique stories, he said. "A lot of guys been through a lot in this league and have been around forever, a bunch of guys have been to The Finals."
As he continued, "It's a bunch of experienced guys that ultimately have one goal and came together and fought through some stuff, and we all understand that in the 82-game season there are a lot of ups and downs, and you've got to fight through some stuff, fight through injuries. Ultimately you've got to keep your eyes on the prize and keep going, fight through some stuff, and that's what we did."
Nowitzki also went out of his way to praise the defense of guys like Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion. "We really got into them," he said. "And I give Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd a lot of credit there, trying to keep Westbrook out of the lane. He really got to the basket a bunch of times today, and Durant, trying to force his catches out a little deeper, and just making shots tough."
"It was a great comeback for us," he added. "One of the best that I can remember."
But don't expect the Mavs to get too comfortable at this point. "Nothing is going to be given to you in this league, especially not in the Playoffs. So we can be a little happy now, but I think starting tomorrow we've got to get focused on Game 5 and just be more solid."
It's part of what makes Dirk so amazing this year. It's not just that he's carrying his team in the fourth quarter and hitting huge shots. But so far, he's had about five different chances to get comfortable, and each time, Dirk's just reloaded and come back harder the next time.
When we thought he'd be rusty after the Lakers series, he came out and had 48 points in Game 1 vs. the Thunder. When it looked like the Thunder might come back to steal Game 3 after his teammates built a huge lead, he came out and drilled a handful of daggers to shut the door. And then in Game 4, when it looked like the Thunder had tied things up, Dirk struck again. Through it all, Dirk's kept coming.
The scary part for OKC and the rest of the NBA? He's not slowing down.