Dirk, Mavs rout Suns, 117-101 | SummitDaily.com

Dirk, Mavs rout Suns, 117-101

Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki (41), of Germany, reacts in the fourth quarter after scoring against the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference finals basketball game in Dallas, Thursday, June 1, 2006. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)

DALLAS ” One game after learning the hard way how much they rely on Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks got a tremendous reminder of why leaning on him is usually a good thing.

Nowitzki shook off his worst game in months by scoring 50 points ” including 15 straight in the fourth quarter to turn a close game into a rout ” to help the Mavs move within a victory of their first NBA Finals with a 117-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Mavericks lead the Western Conference final 3-2 with Game 6 set for Saturday night in Phoenix.

Nowitzki finished with 22 points in the fourth quarter. He set a club record for points in a playoff game and tied Kobe Bryant for the most by anyone this postseason.

“We can’t relax now, as we did in Game 4,” Nowitzki said.

In that game, Nowitzki made only 3-of-13 shot for 11 points. Not-so-coincidentally, the Mavericks lost by 20.

Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said before this game he wasn’t counting on Nowitzki being off again, joking that he was “crossing my fingers and everything else” in hopes that he would. Nowitzki showed it would take more than that to stop him by scoring 13 points in the first quarter, helping Dallas surge ahead by 14.

“I started off pretty well,” he said.

But he slowed in the second quarter and so did the Mavericks. They trailed by seven in the third quarter as Tim Thomas ” who scored 26 points, but was shut out in the fourth quarter ” gave the Suns a Nowitzki-like lift.

Then, after a timeout with 3:24 left in the third, Nowitzki simply took over.

Dallas went on a 10-0 run, with Nowitzki scoring seven. They led by one going into the fourth and were still up one with 8:55 left when Raja Bell and D’Antoni were called for technical fouls. Nowitzki made both free throws and his big streak was on.

“When we were down seven in the third quarter, I saw everything slipping away. I tried to make something happen,” said Nowitzki, who was 6-of-7 with a pair of 3-pointers and 8-for-8 on free throws in the final period.

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