Dirk Nowitzki ducked his head into a mob of teammates, with Dallas owner Mark Cuban clutching the side of his jersey before the Mavericks superstar found coach Rick Carlisle for a hug.
The celebration of 30,000 points came a lot faster than most would have imagined _ except maybe the man who has watched from the bench for nine of Nowitzki’s 19 seasons.
“Watching Dirk the last couple of days, there was no doubt this was going to happen tonight,” Carlisle said.
Nowitzki scored the 20 points he needed for 30,000 in barely more than a quarter despite coming in with just five 20-point games this season, and the Mavericks celebrated with their second straight easy home win over the Los Angeles Lakers, a 122-111 victory Tuesday night.
The 7-foot German became the sixth NBA player and the first international one to reach the milestone, joining four Hall of Famers and a future one in Kobe Bryant. Nowitzki is one of three to score all 30,000-plus with one team. The others are Karl Malone (Utah) and Bryant (Lakers).
Nowitzki scored Dallas’ first eight points in slightly more than two minutes, matched the best first quarter of his career with 18 points and reached the hallowed mark on a 15-foot fadeaway jumper from the baseline over Larry Nance Jr. with 10:58 remaining in the second quarter.
The 38-year-old scored all of his 25 points _ one shy of his season high _ in the first half to send the Mavericks on their way to a 31-point lead in the third quarter.
“I made the first one and it was a 2, and then I made the first 3 and thought, `Why not?”’ said Nowitzki, who made his first six shots and had 11 rebounds in 24 minutes. “I threw another one up and it went in, and then the next three came right after that and I was just trying to ride it from there.”
Dallas extended a franchise record with its 14th straight win over the Lakers, who got 13 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists from Julius Randle in their eighth straight loss.
“I was a Kobe fan,” said Randle, who grew up in the Dallas area. “I hated Dirk growing up. As I got older and wiser, obviously, I was really able to appreciate his greatness.”
After the signature shot for 30,000, Nowitzki added a 3-pointer for 23 points in the first 14 minutes before the game was stopped as teammates mobbed the wide-smiling star near midcourt.
Nowitzki waded through the huddle to get to the bench for more hugs and hand slaps, then returned to the court to acknowledge the standing ovation.
The 2007 MVP was 9 of 12 from the field, 3 of 3 from beyond the arc and 4 of 4 on free throws before halftime. He missed his only shot of the second half.
“For me, this was a 13:02 microcosm of one of the greatest careers in the history of this game,” Carlisle said. “Meticulous preparation, total commitment, unbelievable competitive spirit and a real flair for the moment.”
Nowitzki finished the night at 30,005 points and has said he plans to play a 20th season. If so, he could have a shot at fifth-place Wilt Chamberlain, who has 31,419. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the career leader at 38,387.
With his ABA career included, Julius Erving is the seventh player to reach the mark.
Fans arrived with T-shirts draped over their seats that read “30K” behind a silhouette of Nowitzki’s signature one-legged fadeaway jumper. And they stood each time the Mavericks brought the ball up the court when Nowitzki was two points away.
While the game was stopped, a short video tribute was played, followed by testimonials from former teammates and fans, even some Germans, during subsequent breaks in the game.
Jason Kidd, the point guard with Nowitzki on Dallas’ only championship team in 2011 and second in the NBA in career assists, joked that he should have passed more. Steve Nash, his best friend from the early years of his career, wondered what “ball hog” was in German.
The only glitch was Nowitzki’s first attempt at 30,000, an airball on another fadeaway jumper 10 seconds into the second quarter.
“Every milestone makes you reflect a little bit,” Nowitzki said. “It’s been an amazing ride and a couple more baskets are coming and then it’s time to ride off into the sunset.”
Lakers: D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson led LA with 22 points apiece. … Randle had his third triple-double of the season. … The Lakers outscored Dallas 37-19 in the fourth quarter.
Mavericks: Seth Curry scored 18 points, followed by Yogi Ferrell with 16, Wesley Matthews with 15 and Harrison Barnes with 14. … Nerlens Noel had 11 points and 12 rebounds. … G Quinn Cook had 10 on the last day of his 10-day contract. … The Mavericks led 70-52 at the half. It was their first 70-point half since scoring 72 in the first half of a 130-128 loss to Houston in Game 3 of a first-round playoff series in 2015.
Nowitzki had his 20th career half with at least 25 points. It was his first 25-point half since Nov. 16, 2008. The 18-point quarter was his highest since scoring 20 in the third quarter against New Orleans on Jan. 11, 2014.
“Dirk has been a model player and terrific ambassador for our game. This latest accomplishment further establishes his legacy as one of the NBA’s greatest players.” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Lakers: At Phoenix on Thursday.
Mavericks: Home against Brooklyn on Friday.