Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki became the 13th player in NBA history to score 26,000 career points. He reached the milestone in Wednesday’s 117-115 loss to the Houston Rockets, scoring 38 points in a narrow defeat.
The superstar forward had one of his best all-around games of the season Wednesday, as he shot 13 of 21 from the field and made all 11 free throw attempts, adding 17 boards and three assists to round out the box score. Even at the age of 35, such performances aren’t all that uncommon for Nowitzki, who has bounced back nicely from a down 2012-13 season.
Last season, Nowitzki failed to crack 20 points per game for the first time since 1999-00, but this season he’s averaging 21.6 points on 48.3 percent shooting. Given that Nowitzki played in just 53 games last season and was bothered by injuries for most of the year, his bounce back doesn’t qualify as a surprise.
What’s more surprising is that the Mavericks currently hold the No. 8 seed in a stacked Western Conference, despite suffering through another bumpy offseason. Ever since the 2010-11 championship team broke up, Dallas has been trying to find a star to play alongside Nowitzki, and owner Mark Cuban has yet to have any success in that department. Offseason additions Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon have been crucial for the Mavericks, but Nowitzki is still the only true max-salary star in town.
The Mavs will need every point from Nowitzki as the veteran forward looks to further move up the all-time scoring chart. With 26,022 career points, the 7-foot German needs just 374 more to pass John Havlicek for 12th on the all-time list. Barring injury, Nowitzki figures to pass Havlicek sometime between late February and the end of March.