Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dirk sets scoring record in win over Nets

As much as some wanted to make Saturday night about those who were once here, the guy that never left has always been the story. Dirk Nowitzki added another chapter to his ever-growing legacy as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Mavericks.

The reigning MVP scored 34 in the 111-91 victory over New Jersey, eclipsing the record held by Rolando Blackman for the last 18 years. The Mavs (40-23) snapped a three-game skid, remained in seventh in the Western Conference and hope to build some momentum with less than 20 games remaining in the regular season.

Taking a pass from Jason Kidd on the low block, Nowitzki broke the franchise record with a step-back jumper over Richard Jefferson with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter. The 20,399 fans at a sold-out American Airlines Center erupted with a standing ovation. A confetti shower followed the final horn.

“Well obviously it’s a great honor to be the all-time leading scorer for this franchise,” Nowitzki said as he winds up his tenth season. “There have been so many great players along the way. Ro Blackman is a friend of mine and he coached the German National team one year so I’m really, really close to him, so I hate to break that record and take it from him, but it’s definitely a great honor for me.”

Nowitzki checked out at the next stoppage and received a hug from Avery Johnson before congratulations followed on the bench. Nowitzki’s point total has reached 16,644 – one more than Blackman.

“That was a pretty strong moment for us and I know it was for me,” Johnson said. “During my coaching tenure, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dirk as a player and coach, and it’s been a great ride.

“He allows me to push him. I think I’m probably on him more than anybody. I know sometimes, there’s some disappointment about some of his performances, but nobody’s on him probably as hard as I am. He’s allowed me to try to bring out the best of him. He’s had a triple-double this year, he’s been MVP. He defends the paint better, he has a better post-up game, he’s a better passer. He’s really just been a joy to work with.”

The ride has been pretty bumpy lately, especially Thursday without a suspended Nowitzki in the lackluster home loss to Houston.

“I told Dirk just don’t get any more flagrant fouls,” Johnson quipped.

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