Dallas 122, L.A. Lakers 111
When: 8:30 PM ET, Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas
DALLAS – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Dirk Nowitzki described the evening as surreal. Historic is appropriate, too. The greatest player in Dallas Mavericks history reached the 30,000-point milestone in rousing fashion, showing off the range of shots that have defined his Hall of Fame career. Nowitzki scored a team-high 25 points — he needed 20 coming in for 30K — to lead the Mavericks to a 122-111 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
“Just an amazing experience,” the 19-year veteran said. “After every basket I made, I felt a buzz in the crowd.”
Dallas (27-36) has won three straight and five of six. The Mavericks are within nine games of .500 for the first time since being 2-11 on Nov. 21. They have gone 16-9 since mid-January to climb back into playoff contention.
The sixth-leading scorer in NBA history hit the magical number on his signature one-legged, step-back jumper along the baseline early in the second quarter. That came after he lit up the Lakers for 18 points in the first period.
“I head into the second quarter sitting on 18, and I remember walking out onto the court and everybody got up,” Nowitzki said. “So I got a little nervous and hoisted an airball, but I was able to regroup and make the next shot.”
In the midst of an arena-wide celebration, Nowitzki followed with a long 3-pointer on the next trip down the court before the game was stopped.
A video tribute followed as Nowitzki was mobbed by his teammates, coaches and team owner Mark Cuban. Nowitzki came out to center court to acknowledge the cheers and wave thanks to the fans.
“Sort of surreal; 30,000 is amazing,” he said. “It’s a lot of points, obviously. Every milestone makes you reflect a little bit. It makes you reflect on the people that have helped you and been with you all of this way.”
The Mavs were prepared for the moment, with commemorative T-shirts passed out to everyone in attendance, even if coach Rick Carlisle shied away from the topic before the game.
“It’s going to take a while to sink in, what this really means,” Carlisle said. “The benchmark in baseball is 3,000 hits, and there are 30 guys with 3,000 hits in the history of baseball. There’s only six that have 30,000 points in the history of our game. The magnitude of this moment is something that we’ll all probably need some time to digest.”
Nowitzki got going in a hurry. He scored Dallas’ first eight points, hitting two quick 3-pointers. He made his first six shots from the floor and tied the highest-scoring first period of his career as the Mavs began to pull away.
The lead hit 21 in the second quarter and Dallas took a 70-52 advantage into the break. Nowitzki had 25 points at halftime, one shy of a season high. He didn’t score in the second half and didn’t need to with the lead reaching 31.
Seven Mavericks scored in double figures, including all five starters. Seth Curry knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 18 points. Yogi Ferrell had 16 points and seven assists. Wesley Matthews scored 15 points on five 3-pointers, and Harrison Barnes added 14 points. Nerlens Noel had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
The Mavericks also continued their mastery of the Lakers, running their head-to-head winning streak to 14 and sweeping another season series. Los Angeles (19-45) lost its eighth in a row, tying a season high.
“Teams feel like when they play us right now, that we are a soft team that they can come in and get their offensive numbers against,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “It has to be up to us to change that, and the only way to change that is to do it out there on the court.”
Backup point guard Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell each scored 22 points for the Lakers. Nick Young, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram scored 13 each.
Randle, a Dallas native, was a Kobe Bryant fan growing up, but he grew to admire Nowitzki.
“To this fan base, to this city of Dallas, he is big-time,” Randle said. “He is their Kobe.”
The Lakers finish a two-game road trip Thursday at Phoenix.
Dallas looks to go to improve to 4-0 on its five-game homestand Friday when it faces the Brooklyn Nets.
NOTES: The other five players with at least 30,000 points are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419). … Dallas F Dirk Nowitzki’s 18-point first quarter represented his highest total in a quarter since he netted 20 against the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 11, 2014. … The Lakers officially announced the hiring of former player agent Rob Pelinka as general manager. … Dallas PG J.J. Barea (calf) hoped to play but was ruled out before the game.