For more than 17 years and over 1,300 career games, Dirk Nowitzki has been devastating opponents with the same unstoppable move that has generated 28,876 career points.
The Mavericks didn’t care that Nowitzki had converted just 4-of-13 attempts from the field during Tuesday’s meeting with the Lakers, or that he had already been whistled for five fouls.
The final possession of regulation for Dallas was going to the 13-time All-Star.
With just over 90 seconds remaining, Los Angeles guard Jordan Clarkson tied the game at 90 by converting a layup.
The two teams then combined to miss the next five shot attempts from the field, and Lou Williams gave the Mavericks an opportunity with 14 seconds remaining by committing an offensive foul.
The play call was simple, as Dallas dished the ball into the post and then cleared out to give Nowitzki plenty of space to operate.
Isolated against Julius Randle, the method the 7-footer employed to create enough separation for the final shot was precise. Nowitzki ripped the ball past his defenders face, took one dribble forward, planted his foot and launched an 18-foot fadeaway jumper that fell right through the net.
The shot provided a 92-90 advantage and even drew a celebration from the Lakers bench.
As Nowitzki landed from launching his shot, he back-peddled into the Los Angeles bench and received a congratulatory tap on the butt from Kobe Bryant, as he watched the entire game from the sidelines as he sat out to rest a series of nagging injuries.
Nowitzki immediately tapped the future Hall-of-Famer back on the shoulder, serving as perhaps the final exchange between two of the most dominant players of their era.
Bryant announced he will be retiring at the end of the year, and the meeting Tuesday night was the last of three contests between the two teams this season.
Los Angeles failed to convert on its final possession of the game, clinching the 26th victory of the season for the Mavericks.
The jumper was just the latest display of his acumen in crunch time.
During the first 44 minutes of the game, Nowitzki had scored just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field.
To close out the contest, he poured in six points on 3-of-4 shooting and sank another clutch shot.
The 18-foot fadeaway marked the 12th time Nowitzki had put his team ahead in the final three seconds of a game in the fourth quarter or overtime, tying him with Bryant and Carmelo Anthony for the most over the past 20 years.
The 75 percent shooting from the field in crunch time, occurring during the final five minuets of the fourth quarter or any overtime session when the game is within five points, helped Nowitzki increase his advantage as the most precise shooter in the league in crunch time.
For the year, Nowitzki has poured in 94 points in crunch time — the seventh most in the NBA and just one fewer than Jimmy Butler and Kevin Durant — accounting for 12.4 percent of his total points scored this year.
When the game is on the line, Nowitzki is at his best. The 37-year-old is converting 49.2 percent of his shots in crunch time, the highest percentage of any player in the top-10 in crunch time points scored.
Defenders are left with few options when Dallas turns to him late in the fourth quarter.
Not only is he the most potent crunch time scorer in the NBA, his shooting touch is dangerous from all over the court.
Nowitzki has connected 10 times from 3-point range in crunch time, tying him with teammates Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews for the most in the NBA. The ninth overall pick of the 1998 is shooting 38.5 percent from beyond the arc in crunch time.
If opponents foul him, Nowitzki has proven to be unflappable at the foul line, converting on 22-of-23 free throws in clutch situations.
The final six points of the night for Dallas came at the hands of Nowitzki, just the latest showcase of his crunch time heroics that has made him a legend.