As he was bearing down on another NBA all-time great Monday night, the struggles were mighty for Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki’s patented jumpers weren’t falling, and his frustrations boiled over when he drew a technical foul.
Then, as if all the wheels aligned at the same time at the Barclays Center, Nowitzki buried a gut-check 3-pointer with 34.8 seconds remaining that sealed the Dallas Mavericks’ 96-88 overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets. That crucial bucket by Nowitzki also moved the 17-year veteran past Moses Malone and into seventh place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Afterward, as the Mavs won for the sixth straight time and finished this road trip out East with a 3-0 sweep, Nowitzki tried to make sense of all these legends he’s managed to leave in his rear-view mirror.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
“When I was 17, Moses was obviously an unbelievable player, so it’s been a humbling experience to pass all these all-time greats,” Nowitzki said. “It’s a tribute to my, obviously, the hard work, but other teammates, great coaches that got me to this point, and obviously staying healthy is a big part.
“I’m proud of it, but I’m more proud that we got the win.’’
The Mavs (26-10) exhibited some seldom seen grit and determination to obtain the victory. The visitors looked totally disheveled in falling behind 35-21 after the first quarter, but proceeded to limit the Nets to 53 points over the final three periods and overtime — a span that included 41 minutes.
“It was like a pillow fight defensively in the first quarter,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We just weren’t there.
“They hit first … and they were just quicker in all areas. We picked it up and chipped away.”
Before Nowitzki’s huge basket, Chandler Parsons also shook off a dreadful offensive night by nailing a 3-pointer that padded the Mavs’ lead to 93-88 with 1:52 to go in overtime. Up until that point, Parsons was 1-of-10 from the field and had missed all six of his 3-point attempts.
“It’s not my first time shooting the ball poorly,” Parsons said. “It’s something that happens during a long season.
“You just got to stick with it, you got to have mental toughness to get through it. I’m just glad that I stuck with it and stayed confident, and my teammates stayed confident in me and I was able to knock a big one down.”
With the Mavs down two points, Monta Ellis (19 points, seven rebounds) stayed confident when he converted a pair of free throws with 10.5 seconds left to tie the game at 82 and send it into overtime. Ellis then scored the first four points of overtime and the Mavs, who once led 78-67 with 7:09 left in regulation, never looked back.
In running their impressive record to 11-0 on the road against the East, the Mavs will host Detroit on Wednesday. But not before reflecting on an historic night by Nowitzki in a game that the Mavs shot just 39.4 percent form the field.
“Ellis made big plays down the stretch,” Carlisle said. “And then you couldn’t have a more fitting situation than Dirk hitting the three to pass Moses Malone for seventh on the all-time scoring list.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760