SALT LAKE CITY — Dirk Nowitzki continued his ascension up the scoring ladder Wednesday night.
The 7-foot forward, who has a history of playing well inside EnergySolutions Arena, posted another stellar game Wednesday, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 108-101 road victory over the Utah Jazz and simultaneously improving a spot on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Although he only needed one point to take sole possession of the 12th spot, a ranking he shared with John Havlicek going into the game, Nowitzki still posted 31 against the Jazz to increase his career total to 26,426.
He accounted for that first point just 14 seconds into the game with a 9-foot fadeaway jumper.
"I had the first play called right away — a post up — and I figured with a smaller one on me, they might double-team me, Nowitzki said. "But there wasn't any way I wasn't going to get the shot up."
He took off from there, and he did so on very efficient shooting.
Nowitzki shot 12 of 14 from the floor, including a perfect 4-for-4 performance from beyond the 3-point line, and 3 for 3 from the foul line. On top of that, he pulled down eight rebounds and gave up just two turnovers.
"He really led our team tonight," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Dirk was great from start to finish. ... (Shooting) 4 for 4 from 3, it's hard to do much better than that."
To put Nowitzki's position on the all-time list in perspective, if the 16-year veteran, who was the oldest player on the All-Star team this season, continues through the end of the season with his 21.3 points per game average, he will pass both No. 11 Dominique Wilkins (26,668 points) and No. 10 Oscar Robertson (26,710).
This season alone, Nowitzki, who is just the sixth player to reach the 26,000-point mark with the same franchise, has already moved ahead of Jerry West (25,192), Reggie Miller (25,279) and Kevin Garnett —twice. The only active player left ahead of him on the all-time scoring list is Kobe Bryant, who has been sidelined for the rest of the season.
"He knows who he is," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said after the game. "His teammates know how good he is at doing what he do. He's not as fast and athletic as he once was, (but) he knows how to get open and when he gets it in his hand, it's up in the air quick."
Corbin then added, "Dirk, in my opinion, was spectacular. I tried a lot of different coverages on him and he still made tough shots. That's what great players do in this league. Give the guy a lot of credit."
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.
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