For Dirk Nowitzki, reaching 30K career points in front of Mavs fans was ‘perfect’

DALLAS — Becoming just the sixth player in NBA history to reach the 30,000-point plateau in front of the fans that have cheered him on for 19 seasons, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki says the milestone couldn’t have come in a more fitting moment.

Entering Tuesday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers needing just 20 points to reach the 30,000-point mark for his career, Nowitzki staged a vintage performance in the first half with 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting. In the process, Nowitzki joined an exclusive fraternity that had featured only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. The 7-footer also became just the third player to ever amass 30,000 points with one franchise, matching Malone’s accomplishment with Utah and Bryant’s feat with the Lakers. But after being greeted with a standing ovation following his patented turnaround jumper over Lakers big man Larry Nance Jr. at the 10:58 mark of the second quarter to reach the milestone, Nowitzki says he was elated to share the historic moment with the Dallas fans.

“It was almost like it was planned,” Nowitzki said after moving 1,414 points behind Chamberlain (31,419) for the sixth spot on the league’s all-time scoring list. “With all of the eight-point games I’ve been having after (the All-Star break), it kind of set it up well for this to happen at home and during this homestand. I’m happy that it worked out this way.

“It’s been sort of surreal,” he modestly added after eclipsing the milestone during Tuesday’s 122-111 win with his highest-scoring half since January 11, 2014. “I mean, 30,000 is amazing. It’s a lot of points. Every milestone makes you reflect a little bit and reflect on the people that have helped you and been with you all this way. From all the coaches, to [Mavs owner Mark Cuban] and all the teammates I’ve had, and the fans who went with me through thick and thin. So, it’s been an amazing ride. Hopefully a couple of more baskets are coming, and then it’s time to ride into the sunset.”

The milestone was just Nowitzki’s latest accolade in a Dallas uniform, adding to his future Hall of Fame resume. But after passing Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal (28,596) and moving up to the No. 6 spot on the all-time scoring list in Brooklyn during a 119-118 overtime victory on December 23, 2015, Nowitzki admits that reaching his latest milestone in front of the hometown crowd was even more rewarding.

Already the top foreign-born scorer of all-time, Nowitzki became the sixth player in league history to eclipse the 29,000-point plateau with a three-pointer against Philadelphia at home on February 21, 2016. Nowitzki has now joined Bryant, John Stockton and Tim Duncan as the only players in league history that have spent their entire careers with one franchise and played 19-plus seasons. At the end of his current contract, which ends at the conclusion of next season, Nowitzki will have played 20 seasons with the Mavericks (27-36) to join Bryant as the sole members of the NBA’s 20-year, only one-team club. But with the Mavs now just two games behind the Denver Nuggets in the race for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff position, Nowitzki says his sole focus remains on trying to lead his team back to the postseason.

“I’m happy we’re winning games. That’s the No. 1 thing for me right now. We’re still trying to make this playoff push and we’re playing well, so the main thing is we won the game and it happened early,” Nowitzki said after the Mavericks ran their winning streak to three while he reached the milestone. “Leading up to it, it hasn’t been a lot of great scoring nights. It was a couple of off-shooting nights, and it’s been a little slow there. But this was perfect. Everything was kind of planned out perfect, so I’m happy it worked out that way.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor on Friday night, hosting the Brooklyn Nets. The game will tip off at 8 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out

Game 21: Mavs vs. Kings

Highlights: Mavs vs. Kings

Check out all the top plays from Wednesday night's game against the Kings.

Game 32: Mavs vs. Warriors

Warriors vs. Mavericks

Jose Barea leads a balanced attack scoring 21 points as the Mavericks rout the shorthanded Warriors 114-91.

Game 25: Mavs vs. Suns

Suns vs. Mavericks

Raymond Felton scores 17 points to go along with four assists to lead the Mavericks past the Suns, 104-94.

Game 24: Mavs vs. Wizards

Wizards vs. Mavericks

Raymond Felton recorded a triple-double and the Mavs staged a last minute comeback but it wasn't enough as they fall to the Wizards, 114-111.

Mavs know they must come out with better energy to start games at home

DALLAS — Coming up short in the first outing of a three-game homestand Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks, the Dallas Mavericks admit that they must bring more energy to the table to start games in front of their hometown fans.

Despite finishing with six different scorers in double figures, the Mavericks (13-10) wouldn’t be able to scratch and claw their way to a win to begin a stretch of seven out of 10 games on their home floor. The Mavs struggled through a cold-shooting night as a team, connecting on just 36 percent from the field. And after surrendering 17 points off their nine turnovers against the Atlanta defense, the Mavericks confess that they must come out with better energy in order to improve on just a 5-4 mark on their home floor this season.

“Shots weren’t going, and I don’t think we played necessarily with the right urgency to start the game out,” Mavs swingman Wesley Matthews explained following Wednesday’s loss. “It was kind of a methodical game. Once we started picking our energy up on the defensive end in the second half, you know, the crowd got into it more. Shots started going and we started getting the flow going, but we just didn’t do enough at the end to win the game.

“You know, we’ve got to come out with a different attitude. We’ve got to give our fans something to get loud about and get rowdy about,” he added. “We’ve got to make a stand at home. We have to have a presence at home. This has to start becoming home court. Too many times people are coming into our building and thinking that they can win the game, and that defeats the purpose of home-court advantage. You know, we’ve got to bring it. We do it on the road, and we’ve got to bring that here.”

Prior to returning to American Airlines Center, the Mavericks had played 10 of their previous 13 games away from home, coming back to Dallas after collecting consecutive wins on the road over the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks. The Mavs then found themselves matched up against an Atlanta squad that sprinted to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and a franchise-record 60 wins last season, struggling to generate offense while playing with tired legs.

But according to starting point guard Deron Williams and 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks still demonstrated plenty of fight while pushing the Hawks for the better part of four quarters.

“You know, they definitely made things tough on us,” Williams admitted after scoring a team-high 18 points on 8-of-20 shooting in a losing effort. “The first half wasn’t great, especially defensively. I thought we could have done a better job. We just kind of let them be the aggressors. And when we do that, we kind of get in trouble at times.”

“This is a tough one,” Nowitzki added. “You know, we fought hard here the last week. It’s been a lot of traveling, and I think it caught up with us a little bit. But hey, I thought we kept fighting. We didn’t particularly play well in the first half, but we kept lingering around. And the same with the second half. You know, shooting 36 percent on your home floor, it’s tough to scrap one out.”

Taking a 23-22 edge at the end of the first period, the Mavericks then trailed 49-44 at halftime after struggling to maintain their energy level in the second stanza. The Mavs were also outshot through two quarters, 47.6 percent to 37.8 percent, while facing a 26-19 rebounding disadvantage.

The Hawks then finished the night outshooting the Mavs for the game, 48.1 percent to 36 percent, to overcome Dallas’ 51-47 rebounding edge. Still, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle points to the play of his team in the first half as the reason for the eventual demise. And with hopes that his squad can bounce back Saturday night against the Washington Wizards, Carlisle will preach the importance of putting together a more complete 48 minutes.

“We had a tough night shooting the ball. I mean, that’s obvious by the stats. But sometimes that’s going to come. And I think our undoing was the first half, when we had our lowest activity numbers for the entire year in terms of contesting shots and 50-50 balls,” Carlisle explained. “Even though the score was relatively close, you know, we weren’t playing to the level of intensity that we needed to. I thought we picked it up well in the second half. We won the third and we won the fourth quarters by a point each, and we won the first quarter. But in the second quarter we lost by six, and there’s the difference. You know, we’ve just got to play for 48 (minutes).”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Saturday night, hosting the Washington Wizards. The Mavs lead the season series 1-0 after a 116-104 road win on Sunday. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

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Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:

There’s no injuries to report at this time.

Game 23: Mavs vs. Hawks

Hawks vs. Mavericks

Deron Williams led the Mavericks with 18 points and Zaza Pachulia added 11 points and 17 boards Wednesday against Atlanta.