(The Sports Xchange) - German Dirk Nowitzki continues to pile up the years and the points.
The NBA’s sixth all-time leading scorer racked up a historic 40 points to carry the Dallas Mavericks past the Portland Trail Blazers 132-120 in overtime Sunday afternoon at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The Mavericks (35-35) also halted a five-game home losing streak and clinched the season series against Portland (36-35) as both teams battle to make the playoffs.
“We’re still in the same position where we’re fighting for our playoff lives,” Nowitzki said after his 20th career 40-point game. “Our goal before the season was to make it into the playoffs. We’re still fighting for it.
“We have a beast of a schedule coming up these last few weeks and we need every single game. This is a huge win for us against a team that’s right there with us battling.”
The Blazers and Mavericks meet again Wednesday in Portland. Both teams are off until then.
Nowitzki drilled a 3-pointer to cap an 11-0 run to open the extra session. The 37-year-old former MVP hit 16-of-26 shots, including 3-5 from deep, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists in 39 minutes.
He became only the fourth player in NBA history to score at least 40 at age 37 or older. The others are Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.
“Never underestimate greatness at any age; that’s what I always say about guys like him,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki.
“It’s not like he’s just an older guy who happened to have a good game. He’s been doing this on a somewhat consistent basis all year coming up with a monster game.
“We certainly needed it. His shot making in the overtime was huge, giving us a big enough cushion. 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. You won’t see another one like this ever.”
Portland coach Terry Stotts, a former Dallas assistant, was not surprised by the 40-point outburst.
“Guarding Dirk in a pick-and-roll is difficult and it always has been,” Stotts said.
“I know what a competitor he is, and I know that he is someone who has these types of games, so what he did tonight I’ve seen it a few times.”
Editing by Andrew Both