By Ben Golliver
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki hit a game-winning three-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining to defeat the Bulls 100-98 in Dallas on Saturday.
Nowitzki delivered a vintage performance and the Mavericks, trying to climb back into the Western Conference playoff picture, needed every ounce of it. The German forward finished with a game-high 35 points (on 14-for-17 shooting) and seven rebounds in 34 minutes. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and eight points in the final 53 seconds to secure the come-from-behind victory.
Dallas outscored Chicago 15-1 in the final four minutes and Nowitzki delivered the final blow in signature fashion. The Mavericks pushed the ball up the court after Jimmy Butler missed a pair of free throws. After working the ball around the perimeter with the clock ticking under 10 seconds, Vince Carter faked a three-pointer and stepped inside the three-point line, drawing Luol Deng off Nowitzki. A simple kick-out pass let Nowitzki line up the winner with a clean look from the left angle and he buried it. Nowitzki celebrated with three fingers on each hand raised to the sky.
The Mavericks improved to 36-37, pulling to one game behind the Jazz and Lakers for the Western Conference's No. 8 spot with eight games to play. The Bulls, the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, dropped to 39-32. Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson and Deng each had 25 points.
Earlier in the game, Boozer celebrated a basket by accidentally delivering a below-the-belt shot
to referee Danny Crawford.