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2011 NBA FINALS GAME 4 -- Mavericks 86, Heat 83: My Top 10 Observer-ations

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10. Could tell something wasn't right with Dirk Nowitzki early in the second quarter. He didn't look good on the bench. Piqued, even. Towel over head. Two warm-up jackets draped over him. Gulping liquid out of two water bottles. Not involved in coach Rick Carlisle's huddle. Then at half it was confirmed: Fever of 101-102 degrees. Next person who calls him "soft," feel free to pop in the DVD of this one. And then pop them in the kisser.

9. After 12 minutes the Heat had nine offensive rebounds. By my sportswriter's math they were on pace for 36. The price you pay for going small with J.J. Barea. Speaking of, I betcha the Lakers are pissed that now J.J. forgets how to finish at the rim.

8. What was more strange: LeBron James' indifferent performance (8 points), or that mass grave hoax in Hardin?

7. Saw Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Emmitt Smith, Justin Bieber and (I think) Lil Wayne in AAC tonight. And was Kelly Clarkson hot or chunky or both? Give me both.

6. Re: LeBron's first-quarter flop. Somewhere even Vlade Divac and Karl Malone are ashamed at what Miami pulls with their over-dramatization of basketball.

5. I can hate Dwyane Wade all I want, but dang he's a badass. That block of Tyson Chandler's dunk attempt down the stretch was one of the best in NBA Finals history. I'll repeat: He's the best shot-blocking guard in the history of the NBA.

4. Dirk was running on fumes the entire fourth quarter, but the guy can make free throws from his coffin.

3. How fitting that Wade -- the Mavs were going to trap him, right? -- fumbled the ball on Miami's final, futile, fatal possession? In both of Dallas' wins, Wade has wound up sprawled on the floor. And don't tell me, he was begging for a foul at mid-court? And makes the win even a tad sweeter that Wade missed a key free throw. (By the way, Jason Kidd wasn't good tonight but what a savvy play to catch and foul Wade on that late breakaway.) 

2. When Dirk drove and scored on a layup for a three-point lead with 14 seconds remaining, that wasn't basketball. That was guts. That was legendary. It wasn't quite Michael Jordan, NBA Finals Game 5 in Utah in 1997, but Dirk's night was epic. Ten of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and 11 rebounds while feeling like absolute dog shit.

1. You just witnessed the ugliest, yet most important win in Dallas Mavericks history. Wow!

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