04/13/2009 Mavericks vs. Minnesota
The Mavericks needed every bit of 48 minutes to take down the Minnesota Timberwolves, in a rollercoaster game that came down to the final .2 seconds Monday night in Dallas.
After leading by as many as 13 in the first quarter, the Mavs found themselves down by seven with a little over three minutes left, but Jason Terry’s jumper found the bottom of the net to cap the 96-94 comeback win off in style and keep the Mavericks in position for the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
With the game tied at 94-94 and 2.7 seconds remaining on the clock, everyone in the building believed the ball would go to Dirk Nowitzki for the last shot. Instead, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle drew up a play with Terry as the No.1 option and Nowitzki as the No.2 selection if the play broke down.
“Before we went into the huddle, I told them give me the ball,” Terry said.
Terry then got the ball on the inbounds pass from Jason Kidd, gave a pump fake to shake loose of Timberwolves guard Sebastian Telfair and knocked down an 18-footer to give the Mavs their 49th victory of the season, leaving just .2 seconds left on the clock for Minnesota to answer with a miracle.
“An option for (Terry) and an option for Dirk,” Carlisle said while breaking down the last play. “To get the ball to him (Terry), is an extremely difficult pass because of how teams usually play late-game sideout situations. But Kidd made a great pass and (Terry) made a great shot. And that little hesitation to get that defender to kind of clear by him also ran a little more time off the clock. You couldn’t have asked for a better scenario.”
The Timberwolves were never able to generate a desperation attempt at a shot, after Nowitzki tipped the Minnesota inbounds pass and Kidd knocked the pass away while it was in the air.
The Mavericks survived to win on a night when the team was without Josh Howard, who rested his left ankle on the second night of a back-to-back. The Mavs also overcame a 45-percent shooting night and a 42-24 points in the paint disadvantage.
With Howard out, Jose Juan Barea joined the starting lineup and Dallas jumped out to an early 26-18 lead at the end of one, never trailing in the first period.
Minnesota shot just 35 percent in the first quarter, while the Mavs hit on 53 percent from the floor.
In the second, Minnesota battled back to tie the game, before eventually closing the half up 43-40. The Timberwolves outscored the Mavs 25-14 in the period.
Behind Nowitzki, who led the Mavs with 34 points and nine rebounds despite battling a sinus infection, the Mavs got back into the game in the third. Twice Nowitzki hit big shots to give the Mavs the lead, but Dallas was unable to sustain the momentum.
The Mavs then trailed 74-68 going into the fourth.
“This was one of the tougher situations we’ve been in,” Carlisle said. “We had a timeout at about six minutes. The guys stuck together and said, ‘There’s a lot on the line here. Let’s find a way.’ And that’s exactly what they did.”
In the fourth, the announcement was made that New Orleans lost in Houston, keeping the Mavs alive for the sixth seed.
“We couldn’t lose this ball game,” Terry said emphatically.
Dallas played uphill most of the final quarter, but Terry’s drive and score tied it at 85-85 with 4:40 remaining.
The Mavs would then have to deal with the interior play of Minnesota forward Craig Smith, who scored a team-high 24 points.
Twice Smith answered Mavs’ scores (tying the game) to put Minnesota back up. When Smith gave the Timberwolves a 94-92 advantage, Nowitzki stepped up with a driving lay-up to tie things at 94-94 with 41.2 second left.
“We said that with a couple of minutes left that our season was on the line,” Nowitzki said of the execution down the stretch.
Minnesota then got their chance to win the game, but Telfair had the ball deflected by Nowitzki into Erick Dampier’s arms leading to Carlisle’s timeout to set up the last play and the last two of Terry's 22 points off of the bench.
“Kidd got a big steal down the stretch, we got a big strip on Telfair when he drove and (Terry) obviously made the game winning shot, so it was a lot harder than we were hoping for, but at this point in the season there’s no easy wins. Josh (Howard) sat out again which hurt us, but we got the win,” Nowitzki said.
The Mavs hope to ride the momentum of Monday’s win when they conclude the regular season Wednesday night at home against the Houston Rockets. If the Mavs win and New Orleans loses to San Antonio, the Mavericks would finish with the sixth seed.
The win would also secure the Mavs’ ninth straight 50-win season.
“We’ve got to take care of business Wednesday night against our rival the Houston Rockets,” Terry said on Wednesday night’s matchup. “It’s fan appreciation night, so fans are going to be fired up and we could possibly see that team in the first round of the playoffs, so it’s going to be a big game.”
Individual game tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling 214-747-MAVS or by visiting MAVS.com.