Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stat Line of the Day: May 18th

D. Nowitzki (DAL): 48 points (12-15 FG, 24-24 FT), 6 rebs, 4 asts vs. OKC
I'll admit to saying that of the four major American sports, I watch quite a lot more MLB  and NFL than I do NBA and  NHL, so I haven't  seen  all of Dirk's games over the
This shot went in.  So did the
next one. And the next one...
course of his career. However, there was no way I could have predicted that the 32-year-old German forward would have one of the best shooting nights in NBA Playoffs history last night, leading his team to a 121-112 victory in Game One. The 24 free-throws are a playoff record for most FTs without a miss, surpassing the 21 that Paul Pierce had back in 2003. Dirk has only made the NBA Finals once in his career, back in a 2006 loss to Dwayne Wade's Miami Heat. Now, he's teamed with Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion, two other vets who are still hoping for a chance to lift their first Larry O'Brien trophy. The free-throw shooting this game was impressive overall; the teams combined to shoot 71-of-79 (89.9%). It was Nowitzki that came into this Western Conference Finals hot, shooting 60% from three in these playoffs (12-for-20). However, last night Dirk didn't make--or take--a single long-distance shot. In step with his hot shooting, he's got a PER of 29.1 through the first 11 games of the playoffs, which would be the best of his career--and, with an MVP-esque 25.1 career PER in the playoffs, that is quite the impressive postseason performance. If the Mavericks are going to win a title, they're going to need MVP-quality performances from Dirk night in and night out. Marion, Kidd, J.J. Barea and others are great pieces, but it's Dirk and Dirk alone that can take them to the promised land.

Honorable Mentions:

K. Durant (OKC): 40 points (10-18 FG, 18-19 FT), 8 rebs, 5 assts vs. Mavs
Dirk wasn't the only guy on the court trying to carry his team--two-time scoring champ Kevin Durant was doing his thing for the Thunder at the other end of the court. Unfortunately for KD, everything he did to try and win the game for his team was nearly undone by Russell Westbrook's poor night. The guard shot just 3-of-15 from the floor with a -7 plus/minus, contributing to the loss for the visiting Thunder. Durant had a good free-throw shooting night of his own, but he just couldn't quite match the contribution by his counterpart on the Mavs. If Durant goes for 48 as well, then we might be in a much different scenario heading into game two.

K. Wood (CHC): 1 IP, 4 H, 4 R (0 ER), 1 error vs. Reds
Kerry Wood learned last night that playing baseball in the rain can be really hard. Not just trying to pitch and hold onto a bat, but fielding can be rather difficult as well. With his Cubs holding onto a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the 8th, Wood allowed a leadoff double and an infield single, bringing up Cinci backup catcher Ryan Hanigan, who grounded back to the Cubs pitcher. Wood, trying for the double play at third, ended up throwing the ball over the third baseman's head--allowing two runs to score. The Reds went on to take the lead in that 8th inning, giving Wood the loss on four unearned runs. In fact, all seven runs the Reds scored yesterday in their 7-5 victory were unearned. At least the Chicago team ERA went down...

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