DALLAS (AP) Dirk Nowitzki lingered on the bench during timeouts, waiting for the horn to sound before getting up. When he made a key shot, he walked back on defense without so much as nodding in celebration.
He was sick. A sinus infection left him coughing and wheezing, his temperature spiking to 101 degrees. At tip-off, he was still worn out from hardly sleeping the night before.
Somehow, he managed the energy to play Game 4 of the NBA finals.
And, like a flu-ridden Michael Jordan in Game 5 of the 1997 finals, he still managed to lead his team to a pivotal victory.
Nowitzki struggled through the first three quarters, then willed himself and his team at the end. He scored 10 of his 21 points and grabbed five of his 11 rebounds in the final period, lifting the Dallas Mavericks to an 86-83 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night that ties the NBA finals at two games.
This best-of-seven series has been reduced to a best-of-three. Game 5 is Thursday night in Dallas, and you can be sure Nowitzki will be suited up again.
“Hopefully I’ll get some sleep tonight, take some meds and be ready to go on Thursday,” he said, sniffing throughout his postgame interview with his warm-up jacket zipped all the way up, still in his uniform instead of changing into street clothes like the NBA prefers.
This victory guarantees the series will continue with a sixth game in Miami on Sunday. Everyone from the ratings-hungry folks at ABC to basketball fans across the world are probably rooting for a seventh game considering how things are going – three straight games decided by three points or less, with story lines ranging from Nowitzki’s heroics to Dwyane Wade’s spectacular play to the shrinking confidence of LeBron James.
via Games | NBA.com.