While old man winter doesn’t seem to want to go away, the old man on the Dallas Mavericks’ roster continues to warm the hearts of many across the NBA.
Dirk Nowitzki had a game for the ages Sunday when the power forward scored 40 points to guide the Mavericks to a hard-fought 132-120 overtime victory against the Portland Trail Blazers. Nowitzki joined Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone as the only players in NBA history to score at least 40 points in a game after reaching age 37.
I guess the 10-day All-Star break was nice for me. We were really in the middle of the season, a seven-day beach break at my age was nice.
Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, 37
As is his humble nature, Nowitzki gave an assist to the NBA for what he accomplished against the Blazers and since last month’s All-Star break.
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“I guess the 10-day All-Star break was nice for me,” Nowitzki said. “We were really in the middle of the season, a seven-day beach break at my age was nice.
“I got to recover, and then really started bad in Orlando after the break. But since then I’ve been able to step into some shots, had some good grooves, some good rhythms, and hopefully I can just keep it up, knowing what time it is and knowing the playoffs are on the line. I’m just trying to make every game count.”
It’s not like he’s just an older guy who happen to have a good game. He’s been doing this on a somewhat consistent basis all year, coming up with the monster game.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on Nowitzki
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle says everyone should relish Nowitzki’s exceptional 18-year career.
“It’s not like he’s just an older guy who happened to have a good game,” Carlisle said. “He’s been doing this on a somewhat consistent basis all year, coming up with the monster game.
“So we’ve all got to enjoy whatever time we have left to watch him —whatever number of years it is — because it’ll go by quickly, because you won’t see another one like this. Ever.”
He just keeps on doing it. Father Time can’t catch up with him. I would say I’m surprised, but I’m not. He’s been doing it all season.
Mavericks point guard Deron Williams on Nowitzki
Nowitzki is the architect in becoming the first 7-footer who consistently hit 3-point shots, hence the phrase “stretch four.” But what is baffling is that he’s still commanding double-teams, and he’s shown little signs of slowing down.
“He just keeps on doing it,” said point guard Deron Williams, who contributed 31 points and 16 assists in the win over Portland. “Father Time can’t catch up with him. I would say I’m surprised, but I’m not. He’s been doing it all season.”
Over the past 13 games, Nowitzki is averaging 24 points and seven rebounds in 32.3 minutes. He is shooting 53.4 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from 3-point range. He also has scored 20-plus points in his past eight games, including a pair of 30-point games and the 40-point showing.
It’s Nowitzki’s longest such streak since he scored 20 or more points in 16 consecutive games from Feb. 27-March 24, 2011.
“The win is always what matters,” he said. “We always say that numbers don’t mean anything in a loss — you have to combine it with a win. So I’m glad we made enough plays on both ends of the floor to come through with the win.”
Nowitzki gave the Mavericks a hometown discount by signing a three-year, $25 million contract when he became a free agent in the summer of 2014. He has one more season after this one.
There are probably three or four guys on our team that wouldn’t be here had he not made certain financial sacrifices. It’s pretty amazing what he’s done and what he’s given up so that we can compete.
Carlisle on Nowitzki
So what keeps Nowitzki going, what keeps him motivated when he’s spent almost half his life in the NBA?
“He’s playing for this franchise,” Carlisle said. “It’s pretty clear his loyalty to [owner] Mark [Cuban] and the Mavericks has been undying — very atypical for a player of his magnitude and his greatness.
“There are probably three or four guys on our team that wouldn’t be here had he not made certain financial sacrifices. It’s pretty amazing what he’s done and what he’s given up so that we can compete.
“With the West the way it is and East the same way this year, and the nature of how tough the competition is even just to get in the playoffs, if he had not done those things we wouldn’t be in this position.”