DALLAS — As great as Dirk Nowitzki frequently has been, perhaps he was never better than in the 2011 Western Conference Finals against the Thunder, averaging 32.2 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 4-1 series victory.
The All-Star power forward shot 55.7 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from 3-point range and 96.7 percent from the free-throw line against OKC.
Game 1 was calculated as the most efficient shooting performance in NBA playoff history as Nowitzki erupted for 48 points while shooting 12 for 15 from the field and 24 for 24 from the line. He also added six rebounds, four blocks and four assists.
Part of Nowitzki's shooting exhibition included his signature move, a step-back jumper off the wrong (right) foot, a shot that looks all wrong until the ball splashes through the net with uncanny frequency.
As if the 7-foot, 245-pound Nowitzki already wasn't lethal enough offensively, “The Dirk” step-back move appears to be both unblockable and unstoppable.
Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant constantly tries to improve his game, which is why it was no surprise he started attempting step-back jumpers off one foot the following season.
“Imitation is the best form off flattery, I guess,” said a smiling Durant. “I wanted to learn it because I'm 6-(foot)-9 and Dirk uses it so much on us in the playoffs and the regular season. I'm like, ‘Man, if he can master his shot, I'm going to try to do the same thing.' ”
Trouble was, Durant's shot often ended with a clang rather than a splash.
“As in anything, you can't walk before you crawl,” Durant said. “Everything is going to take some time.”
What did OKC coach Scott Brooks think of Durant adding the shot to his repertoire?
“I thought, ‘Why (attempt it)? You were making your normal shot at a nice clip,' ” Brooks said.
Given his frigid success rate, Durant essentially ditched “The Dirk” last season during games, but continued to practice.
The shot has been extremely effective this season, leaving Durant defenders feeling even more helpless than ever.