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May 17, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki


Dallas Mavericks – 121
Oklahoma City Thunder - 112

Q. The last three series you've been playing, you've been playing on a mission. Do you feel is it now or never for you?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, we feel like every year, every new season in the Playoffs is a new opportunity for us. After '06 obviously we had a great run and fell up short. So since then every year is a new opportunity for us, and we're just trying to go for it.

Q. I don't know how you say bulletproof in German, but you put up 39 shots and missed three.
DIRK NOWITZKI: Yeah, I mean, I was really looking for my shot early, was working a lot on my shot. Obviously we had a week off. I was in the gym a lot every night, and it paid off. I really looked for my shot early and was able to get a good rhythm, and for a shooter, obviously when the first couple go in, that's even better for the confidence, and just attacked from there. So yeah, it was a good game.
I think our bench was really great attacking, Jet, J.J. Barea there in the fourth quarter ran like six, seven times, just straight up pick-and-roll. He was able to get in the lane and shoot a big three. So everybody came through for us tonight.

Q. How would you compare this performance with some of your individual performances in the Playoffs?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, it's a win. I mean, really that's all I care about. It was a tough Game 1, and they kept coming, especially in the fourth quarter. I think we were up ten and they kept making plays. Durant kept making tough shots. So they were always right there, and it was only like a four-point game there with a couple minutes to go. So the main thing is we found a way to win, and that's what it's all about. Numbers don't mean anything if you lose.

Q. Usually you're pretty quick to pull the trigger down the stretch being the clutch guy. What was going through your mind on the play where you kicked it out to Terry for the three that pretty much put y'all up, sealed the deal?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, I had the ball in the high post and I put it down going right, and I saw Westbrook really trying to go for the steal, and he really jumped in there. And at that point I had Kidd on the wing and Jet on the deep corner. Jet is usually our fourth quarter player, our finisher, and he made a tough shot there to kind of put us over the top.

Q. Talk a little bit about the collective team effort that you guys had defensively, kind of shutting down Russell Westbrook, please.
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, I think he's so good in the open court, and in transition he's so explosive getting to the rim. This is a big series for us. We're just running back. Make or miss, we've got to get back and build a wall so he sees a couple bodies. I thought we did a decent job. We still got to the rim and got some fouls. I mean, he shot 18 free-throws, so he still was able to get to the basket some. So we know we've got to be better. We've got to be sharper in Game 2 if we want to win.

Q. Much was made of the rest and rust with nine days off. What did you see in the first quarter and what turned around in the second quarter?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Yeah, we weren't quite as sharp as we wanted to be there in the fourth quarter. In the first quarter they had a little lead. I think they were up seven or nine there at one point. We just had to settle down a little bit and get some stops. I thought they were in the 40s shooting percentage all night, so that was decent. I thought try to keep them in front of us, try and make them beat us over the top. Rebound the ball is always big. They've got a bunch of physical guys over there, and I thought we held our own on the boards, which was big. Yeah, so our bench really came through for us today.

Q. Scott Brooks and Durant were saying that they felt they were being too physical with you and that's where some of the fouls came from. Did you feel they were playing you physically, and also, when you go up against a young guy like Ibaka, do you feel you have a distinct advantage by pulling him out to the perimeter?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, I felt both teams tried to play physical and there were a lot of fouls called. They shot even more free throws than we did. So there were just a lot of fouls being called, and players have to adjust. That's on the players to kind of go through and feel their way through, the officiating early, and you've got to adjust.
Really throughout the day, yeah, I had a good rhythm against whoever was on me. I had some rip-throughs, had a spin move from the baseline early to set up -- went to the basket, got a dunk, and I think that set up the jump shots for the next couple trips down. I thought I had a good mix driving and shooting.

Q. When you get into that kind of a rhythm where everything you put up goes through, do you get a sense that no matter what the defense is, no matter who they send in at you, no one can stop you?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, I thought, like I said, I did a good job mixing it up, and then actually one or two times they tried to double, and I remember one time I did -- went baseline and Westbrook came down and I saw him and we had a good kick-out and J-Kidd made a big three right there, and after that they kind of stayed home again. So we made timely shots. When they did come down, when they did double, our guys on the wings knocked down some big shots like Jet in the fourth quarter there and J.J. in the fourth, so we made some timely shots when they did decide to double.

Q. You're getting ready to watch film tomorrow and get ready for Game 2 on Thursday. What are you looking for?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, you know, like I said earlier, we've got to be better. I thought there in the fourth quarter we had a nice lead and we started to trade baskets where we didn't get any stops there. We had no zone, they were breaking us down and made some shots, so we've got to be better in Game 2. And like I said in the Portland series, I think Game 2 is even bigger than Game 1. The road team is always looking for a split on the road, so Game 2 is even bigger than Game 1, so we've got to be better, we've got to stay solid defensively for a little longer periods of time and offensively keep attacking, keep screen rolling and keep them off guard a little bit.

Q. Could you talk about J.J. Barea and how he's able as a pint-sized guy to get to the rim the way he does?
DIRK NOWITZKI: He's fearless off the dribble, he can finish in there with the best of them and he knows how to use his body and his quickness very well. He's been big for us ever since we got him.
And what really helps him now, I think he worked on his three-point shot a lot, and now you can't just go under anymore like they did today. I think he made two big threes, one in the first half, one in the fourth quarter when they went under on the screen-and-roll, and I think that really over the years set up his drives more because now they can't just go under and dare him to shoot.

Q. When you look back at last summer did you consider your options and even think about signing elsewhere?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Not really. I mean, this is where I wanted to be, and we had a great talk with Cubes there. Had a meeting and really all I wanted to hear was that he's going to go for it and going to keep bringing players in for us to ultimately get our goal. So that's all I really needed to hear, and that was an easy decision after that.

Q. Looking forward to Game 2, what do you think you guys have to do to make sure that Kevin Durant doesn't get into the 48-point range?
DIRK NOWITZKI: He's tough. He's tough. He started off really in a groove and had some tough shots there I thought were tricks. Brewer, whoever was on him, he came off some down screens, has a quick release, he's long, and he's a tough cover for the whole league. Just got to keep on working. I mean, you've got to force him to some tough shots, and that's really all you can do because he's so long he can basically get his shot up at any time. But we've got to keep working.
Any time with a great player it's not only one guy, you've got to throw several bodies at him. Yeah, just five guys got to be on a string and trying to help out. He made some tough shots tonight, and that's one reason why he's one of the best players in this league.

Q. How does this current Mavs team compare to the 2006 team that went to the NBA Finals?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, I think we're a better team than then. We're deeper; our bench is better; our bigs are better. So I think overall we're a better team. The problem only is that the top teams in the league are better than back then. You know, if you look at the top teams, every team has a bunch of All-Stars, some teams actually have multiple Hall-of-Famers, and it's tough. So we're happy we're one of four teams still playing, and we'll see how far we can go.

Q. A lot of the emphasis was on your offense, but how were you able to block four shots without getting in foul trouble?
DIRK NOWITZKI: That's a great question. You know, just trying to help the guys out. I mean, we know they're more of a perimeter-oriented team with Durant and Harden, who's great off the bench, and also Westbrook, so for us as bigs we've got to be able to help at any time. I thought Tyson did a good job and Haywood trying to protect our paint, and I guess that's what I tried to do, as well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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