By Art Garcia, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki came out firing and didn’t let up until joining another exclusive club.
The greatest player in Dallas Mavericks franchise history reached the 30,000-point milestone in rousing fashion, showing off the range of shots that have defined his Hall of Fame career.
Nowitzki scored a team-high 25 points — he needed 20 coming in for 30K — to lead the Mavericks to a 122-111 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
Dallas (27-36) has won three straight and five of six. The Mavericks are within nine games of .500 for the first time since being 2-11 on Nov. 21. They have gone 16-9 since mid-January to climb back into playoff contention.
The sixth-leading scorer in NBA history hit the magical number on his signature one-legged, step-back jumper on the baseline early in the second quarter. In the midst of an arena-wide celebration, Nowitzki hit a long 3-pointer on the next trip down the court before the game was stopped.
A video tribute followed as Nowitzki was mobbed by his teammates, coaches and owner Mark Cuban. Nowitzki came out to center court to acknowledge the cheers and wave thanks to the fans.
The Mavs were prepared for the moment, with commemorative t-shirts passed out to everyone in attendance, even if coach Rick Carlisle shied away from the topic.
“This has been like a slow-moving, gathering weather front,” Carlisle said before the game. “My belief is that there’s such a high level of respect for him and the milestone that to talk about it is probably not appropriate. It’s more appropriate to stay within the process and keep going.”
Nowitzki got going in a hurry. He scored Dallas’ first eight points, hitting two quick 3-pointers. He made his first six shots from the floor and scored 18 points in the first quarter as the Mavs began to pull away.
The lead hit 21 in the second quarter and Dallas took a 70-52 lead into the break. Nowitzki had 25 points at halftime, one shy of a season high. He didn’t score in the second half and didn’t need to with the lead reaching 31.
Seven Mavericks scored in double figures, including all five starters. Seth Curry knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 18 points. Yogi Ferrell had 16 points and seven assists. Wesley Matthews scored 15 points on five 3-pointers and Harrison Barnes added 14 points. Nerlens Noel had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
The Mavericks also continued their mastery of the Lakers, running their winning streak to 14 and sweeping another season series. Los Angeles (19-45) has lost eight in a row, tying a season high.
Backup point guard Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell each scored 22 points for the Lakers. Nick Young, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram scored 13 each.
The Lakers finish a two-game road trip Thursday at Phoenix.
Dallas looks to go to 4-0 on its five-game homestand Friday against Brooklyn.