(The Sports Xchange) - Presented with the five names of those ahead of him on the NBA career scoring list after passing a major personal milestone, Dirk Nowitzki responded as if it was music to his ears
“That sounds pretty good,” the German told reporters. “That sounds really good. It’s a dream come true. When I was 20 years old, I never expected this.”
So did hitting the winning shot.
On the night he passed Shaquille O’Neal for sixth place on the scoring list, Nowitzki capped a 22-point display by sinking the go-ahead layup with 19.2 seconds left in overtime as the Dallas Mavericks edged the Brooklyn Nets 119-118 on Wednesday.
The decisive basket came after a hook shot by center Brook Lopez gave the Nets a 118-117 lead with 41.1 seconds remaining.
On the next possession, the 37-year-old Nowitzki posted up forward Joe Johnson on the left side, drove by him and scored before Thaddeus Young could help on defense.
Nowitzki’s shot stood as the game-winner when Brooklyn guard Jarrett Jack missed an 18-foot fadeaway from the left wing with less than a second remaining.
“He had a good look, it just didn’t go in,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said.
Nowitzki finished his 1,293rd career regular-season game with 28,609 points and only trails Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain on the NBA scoring list.
He needed 10 to pass O’Neal (28,596 points) and moved into sixth with a 17-footer with 9:51 left in the second quarter.
“It makes perfect sense,” Dallas forward Chandler Parsons said. “He’s one of the best to ever play, one of the best careers ever. I’m really happy for him.”
When Nowitzki passed O’Neal, the Mavericks led by 12 points. During the next timeout, his team mates rose in unison and gave him a standing ovation.
“That was a moment I’ll never forget the rest of my life,” said Nowitzki, who also moved past Hall of Famer Moses Malone into seventh place last January in Brooklyn.
“You run out of accolades,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s just such a tremendous feat and such a tremendous individual.”
Shortly after the milestone, the Mavericks upped their lead to 16 and took an 11-point advantage into halftime when Nowitzki hit a three-pointer with 1.4 seconds remaining.
Then it all collapsed in the third quarter and Dallas faced a six-point deficit before getting the big plays late in the fourth and in overtime.
“Tonight to me was more important to get this win,” Nowitzki, who won an NBA title with Dallas in 2011, said. “We found a way.”
Guard J.J. Barea had the most productive night of his career, hitting his first eight shots from the field while scoring 32 points and handing out 11 assists.
“It was amazing,” Barea said of Nowitzki’s night. “I’ve been through all the battles with him and I see him break all type of records, but this one’s amazing. I think I made the pass too, so it was pretty good.”
Editing by John O'Brien