OKLAHOMA CITY – Just like Game 1, Dirk Nowitzki knocked down every free throw he shot. The difference: The total was one-eighth as much.
Nowitzki, primarily defended by rugged Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison, shot only three free throws during an 18-point, 7-of-21 shooting, seven-turnover night. The Mavericks still managed to grind out a 93-87 win in Sunday's Game 3 to reclaim home-court advantage in the Western Conference finals.
Carlisle credited Collison's effort, calling him one of the "best post defenders really in basketball," but also said: "Now, I don't know in terms of legal limits. I believe the line may have been crossed at times, and if so, I mean, the league will see that."
Nowitzki scored 10 of his 18 points in the final 7:22, when he hit two midrange jumpers, a seven-footer and finally got a two-shot trip to the line on Collison's third personal foul with 23.3 seconds remaining. (Nowitzki's other free throw was after Russell Westbrook's technical for shoving the Mavs' superstar after those two bumped repeatedly during a cross-matched Dallas possession midway through the third quarter.)
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