Nowitzki sets franchise career scoring record
Posted: March 8, 2008
As much as some wanted to make Saturday night about those who were once here, the guy that never left has always been the story. Dirk Nowitzki added another chapter to his ever-growing legacy as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Mavericks.
The reigning MVP scored 34 in the 111-91 victory over New Jersey, eclipsing the record held by Rolando Blackman for the last 18 years. The Mavs (40-23) snapped a three-game skid, remained in seventh in the Western Conference and hope to build some momentum with less than 20 games remaining in the regular season.
Taking a pass from Jason Kidd on the low block, Nowitzki broke the franchise record with a step-back jumper over Richard Jefferson with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter. The 20,399 fans at a sold-out American Airlines Center erupted with a standing ovation. A confetti shower followed the final horn.
“Well obviously it’s a great honor to be the all-time leading scorer for this franchise,” Nowitzki said as he winds up his tenth season. “There have been so many great players along the way. Ro Blackman is a friend of mine and he coached the German National team one year so I’m really, really close to him, so I hate to break that record and take it from him, but it’s definitely a great honor for me.”
Nowitzki checked out at the next stoppage and received a hug from Avery Johnson before congratulations followed on the bench. Nowitzki’s point total has reached 16,644 – one more than Blackman.
“That was a pretty strong moment for us and I know it was for me,” Johnson said. “During my coaching tenure, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dirk as a player and coach, and it’s been a great ride.
“He allows me to push him. I think I’m probably on him more than anybody. I know sometimes, there’s some disappointment about some of his performances, but nobody’s on him probably as hard as I am. He’s allowed me to try to bring out the best of him. He’s had a triple-double this year, he’s been MVP. He defends the paint better, he has a better post-up game, he’s a better passer. He’s really just been a joy to work with.”
The ride has been pretty bumpy lately, especially Thursday without a suspended Nowitzki in the lackluster home loss to Houston.
“I told Dirk just don’t get any more flagrant fouls,” Johnson quipped.
Nowitzki had plenty of help. Brandon Bass erupted for a career-high 19 off the bench as the Mavs led from start to finish. Jerry Stackhouse, making just his third start of the season, added 20 in 30 minutes. Kidd doled out 13 assists in his first game against his former team.
Stackhouse’s inclusion as the starting shooting guard could end up being permanent depending on the results. Johnson has tried Eddie Jones, Devean George and Jason Terry in that spot. Johnson is looking for someone to get to the basket and the line.
“Something we’re thinking about,” Johnson said of Stackhouse starting. “We’ve had some other issues with starting both of our point guards [Kidd and Jason Terry] together. We’ll give it a chance to see what happens.”
Bass came off a seven-point effort in his first start with Dallas on Thursday. Bass apparently wasn’t as calm as he claimed to be beforehand. Johnson alluded to his nervousness, saying the rugged power forward was late getting off the bench during pregame introductions.
“He really responded tonight,” Johnson said. “He was back in his normal role. He made some shots and he was decisive.”
Bass scored 11 in the first quarter, as the rest of the starters struggled. He also threw down several ferocious dunks during the evening.
“I just try to bring the same intensity off the bench every night,” Bass said. “I just need to go out there and be aggressive and not think so much about trying to do the right things, and I just need to go out there and play hard.”
The relatively easy win, coming off a stretch of four losses in five games, isn’t unlike the others during the Jason Kidd Era Part II. The Mavs are 5-5 since the deal, with all five wins coming against teams with more losses than wins.
The game featured the returns of Devin Harris and Gana Diop, two former Mavs who were a big part of the team’s recent success. Neither had much of an impact. Harris scored nine – none in the second half – and had two assists. Diop had five boards in 16 minutes.
Blackman had no problem stepping aside for Nowitzki in the record books. Blackman helped epitomize the Mavs of the 1980s, and has enjoyed a long stay with the organization. He was part of the post-game celebration in the locker room.
“We all know him as a fantastic person and a great guy, and it’s been a privilege to see his rise to get to this point,” said Blackman, director of basketball development. “He’ll blow this whole thing away and be the first Maverick to 20,000.
“I’m glad it’s a good guy and someone who plays the game of basketball the right way. I respect him very much. We’re both true Mavericks and he’s a guy who’s very worthy. That’s the best part.”
The first European-born MVP was asked if he can appreciate his latest achievement.
“It’s a little too early,” Nowitzki said. “Hopefully I’ve got a lot of good basketball, a lot of points left in me for this franchise. All of those records are going to look really nice in 20, 30 years when you look back and you can tell your grandchildren about them.
“As of right now, we’re just trying to get back on track. We had a three-game skid and we really didn’t look that great. We’ve got to use this home stand to get better and get back to winning some games. The playoff picture is very tight so it was a big win for us tonight and hopefully we can put together a nice little winning home stand here.”