Sickly Nowitzki overcomes fever to lead Dallas to Game 4 triumph

Sitting at the podium after the game, Dirk Nowitzki’s signs of illness were obvious.

He wasn’t wearing a dapper suit like the NBA marketing folks would have preferred. Instead, he was still wearing his sweat-drenched uniform with his warm-up top zipped tightly around his neck.

In between wheezing coughs, Nowitzki tried to explain how he was able to score 21 points to lead Dallas to an 86-83 victory over Miami and square the best-of-seven NBA Finals at two games apiece.

“Hopefully I’ll get some sleep tonight, take some meds and be ready to go on Thursday,” Nowitzki said, his sniffles noticeable throughout the post-game interview.

Nowitzki played with a temperature that was reported by ABC-TV to be 101 degrees before tipoff. He looked pale and drawn throughout the game after barely sleeping the night before the  game.

And still, the illness couldn’t conquer him — even during a stretch where he missed 10 of 11 shots after hitting his first three attempts of the game.

Nowitzki finished with a flourish, scoring 10 points during a pivotal 21-9 game-finishing run by the Mavericks to salt away the victory. Nowitzki hit the clinching layup with 14.4 seconds that put away the game and was the biggest shot of the night.

“The average person, you know, has sick days and battling 100-something (fever), it’s just tough to get out of bed,” Dallas center Tyson Chandler told the Associated Press. “This guy is playing against the best athletes in the world.” 

The Mavericks overcame a 32-point effort from Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who fumbled away a chance to win the game on the Heat’s final possession. But an even bigger surprise was the continued struggles of LeBron James, who was limited to eight points on 3-for-11 shooting. It snapped a streak of 434 consecutive games of double-figure scoring for him.

James’ disappearance down the stretch — no points and only one shot in the fourth quarter — was a marked contrast from Nowitzki. The Mavericks’ key player kept going despite being battling the debilitating bout of the flu.

“This is the Finals. You’re going to leave it out there,” Nowitzki said. “Like I said earlier in the series — it’s June. … You have to go out there and compete and try your best for your team, so that’s what I did.”


Dallas F Dirk Nowitzki: Overcame a sapping sinus infection and a fever to score 21 points, grab 11 rebounds and was plus-7 in the Mavericks’ 86-83 victory over Miami in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Dallas G Jason Terry: Went for 17 points, three assists and three steals in the Mavericks’ victory over Miami.

Dallas F Shawn Marion: Provided 16 points and four rebounds in the Mavericks’ triumph over the Heat.

Dallas C Tyson Chandler: Muscled for 13 points and 16 rebounds, provided a steal and was plus-7 in the Mavericks’ victory over  the Heat.  

Dallas G Jason Kidd: Despite not scoring, he provided a fierce defensive effort against LeBron James. Additionally, James notched three rebounds, three assists and three steals in the Mavs’ win over Miami and was a team-best plus-12.

Miami G Dwyane Wade: Filled the scoresheet for 32 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots in the Heat’s loss at Dallas.

Miami C Chris Bosh: Notched 24 points and six rebounds in the Heat’s loss to Dallas.


Miami F LeBron James: Produced a career playoff low with only eight points in the Heat’s loss to Dallas. James had  four turnovers and was 3-for-11 from the field.

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