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2011 NBA Finals, Mavericks Vs. Heat: Dirk Nowtizki's Hand Injury 'Felt Great' During Game 2

After tearing a tendon in the middle finger of his left hand in Game 1, nobody really knew how he, or that injury, would respond in Game 2. Nowtizki wasn't as efficient from the field as we have grown accustomed to (10-22) but when the Mavs needed him most, he was there with some of his trademark heroics. First, a three that gave the Mavs a 93-90 lead. Then, after a huge mental lapse by Jason terry that allowed a tying three from Mario Chalmers, Dirk drove to the hoop around Chris Bosh and hit a game-winning layup with his left hand. A desperation three pointer by Dwyane Wade went begging, and the Mavs escaped with a 95-93 win. The series is now knotted up at one as it heads back to Dallas.

Dirk said the injury performed better than he expected it to, via Mavs Money Ball.

"It felt great. I thought it wasn't going to bother me before the game, and it didn't. I was able to get a good grip on the ball."

And as for that last play, all started because Dirk realized that the Heat a foul to give. He, like everyone else who has ever seen a basketball game before, thought that the Heat would give a foul if Dirk started going to the hoop. As we all know, they didn't.

"We talked about it. They had a foul to give, so I actually drove a little earlier than I would have, knowing they had a foul to give. Made a move and the foul never came, so I was able to get to the basket and lay it in. That was a big play, and they didn’t have a timeout left, so we had to scramble back."

It doesn't sound like Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was particularly surprised about Dirk playing through the injury, and being able to play as well as he did. He also used a comparison that we've been hearing about a lot during these playoffs.

"I played with Larry Bird when he was the best player in the world. Guys like that don't feel pain right now. If you're feeling pain, you make yourself numb."

Notice that Carlisle quickly makes sure that nobody takes this comment as a nother Pippen/Jordan/LeBron disaster. But this is still high praise for Nowitzki.

This is an important time for the injury, to see how it responds after the game. If he experiences any swelling or discomfort, he has until Sunday to let it heal before Game 3.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.