Validation for all the work Dirk Nowitzki has put in over the last 15 months came Thursday when the Dallas Mavericks’ superstar was chosen to play in his 12th All-Star Game.
Nowitzki was one of seven reserves picked by the Western Conference coaches to participate in the midseason classic, which will be held Feb. 16 at the New Orleans Arena.
The other six West reserves are Dwight Howard and James Harden of the Houston Rockets, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The seven Eastern Conference reserves are Indiana’s Roy Hibbert, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, Miami’s Chris Bosh, Washington’s John Wall, Chicago’s Joakim Noah, Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson and Atlanta’s Paul Millsap.
Nowitzki played in 11 consecutive All-Star contests from 2002-12, but missed last year’s game after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Oct. 19, 2012. Nowitzki sat out 29 games last season, but a vigorous off-season of hard work has obviously paid off for the 16-year veteran from Germany.
“I have been a part of All-Star Weekend every year since I have been in the league, and not being there last year felt strange,” Nowitzki said in a statement released by the Mavs. “The Dallas fan base has always been great to me and the Mavericks’ organization, and the city deserves to be represented at the All-Star Game.”
In 45 games this season, Nowitzki is averaging 21.6 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 48.3 percent from the field in only 32.4 minutes per game. And he’s made his owner a proud man.
“Congrats to my guy [Dirk],” Mark Cuban tweeted. “Good guys can and do win. #35 ain’t nothing but a number.”
On Wednesday against Houston, Nowitzki became the 13th player in NBA history to score at least 26,000 career points. He had his best game of the season with 38 points and a season-high 17 rebounds.
Of the 24 All-Stars chosen to this year’s festivities, Nowitzki is the oldest at 35 years, 233 days. Los Angles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, voted in as a starter, is 35 years, 160 days old.
Last year during All-Star Weekend, Nowitzki said he was on a beach “working on my tan.” This year, he’ll be back among the world’s greatest players working on his game.
“I appreciate my teammates for putting me in the best position to succeed and again be named to the Western Conference All-Star team,” Nowitzki said. “I am excited to represent the Mavericks in New Orleans and I look forward to returning to my team and making a great run at the playoffs.”
Marion, Harris updates
Shawn Marion sat out Thursday’s practice as he continues to deal with a right shoulder contusion that forced him to miss four games from Jan. 8-13.
“Marion has been fighting through this thing, and it’s just tough,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He knows how much we need him on the one hand. On the other hand, it’s clearly affected him offensively. His shoulder is still very sore, so I say he’s day-to-day.”
Guard Devin Harris also had what Carlisle described as “a light day” Thursday.
“He just needed a bit of a break because he’s been doing a lot,” Carlisle said. “He’s fine for [Friday’s game against Sacramento].”
Lineup change possible
The horrific defense the Mavs employed during Wednesday’s loss to Houston has Carlisle hinting at altering his starting lineup.
“Everything’s in play, yeah, no question about it,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who are ready.
“We’ll keep looking at it every day. Our guys who haven’t played much practiced well [Thursday] and I’m certain that they’re ready to go if needed.”