The Dallas Mavericks had the ball with the game tied against the Lakers, and with the clock running down, Dirk Nowitzki hit a game-winner. We’ve seen this before. Sideline out-of-bounds, Rick Carlisle ran his old pal off a stagger screen, and got him the ball in the familiar left mid-post.
Nowitzki pivoted, went right, and pulled up over Julius Randle for the 92–90 win Tuesday night. Worth noting: Randle, age 21, grew up in the Dallas area, which makes this either a quietly cool or incredibly frustrating welcome-to-the-big-time moment for the youngster.
One difference in this Mavericks-Lakers matchup? The retiring Kobe Bryant sat out to rest injuries, depriving fans of one last bout between two all-time greats. Nevertheless, as Nowitzki hit the shot and jogged backward, he ran into none other than a suit-clad No. 24, who delivered a small congratulations.
Wednesday’s game would have been the 50th career meeting between Bryant and Nowitzki. It would have had little sway on the all-time series, which Bryant won 32–17. The two made every All-Star game from 2002–12 and every All-NBA team from ’01–2012. Both are bound for the Hall of Fame.
“I always say there were times when we played at home and it was like 11:00 and it’s only 9:00 (in L.A.) and I sat on the couch watching the Lakers fourth quarter, watching Kobe take over games,” Nowitzki told Mavericks.com earlier Wednesday. “It’s something I’ll always remember—his clutch gene and his ability to make tough shots.”
And somehow, fittingly, the two men shared the last laugh.