Only six players in NBA history have scored 30,000 career points. Three of them were Lakers when they did it, and the latest one reached the milestone against the Lakers during their Tuesday night loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki stepped back, away from Larry Nance Jr., and took that infuriatingly gorgeous fadeaway jump shot he's used to exasperate opponents thousands of times. With that bucket, he made history. He eclipsed 30,000 career points and the Mavericks went on to beat the Lakers, 122-111.
"There's a reason he has 30,000 points," Nance said. "That's a 7-footer leaning back. That can shoot. Good luck."
Nowitzki scored a game-high 25 points, all of them in the first half.
Needing 20 points to reach the milestone, Nowitzki made his first six shots and had 18 by the end of the first quarter. That equaled the highest-scoring first quarter of his career.
His first shot in the second quarter? An airball.
"After every basket I made, I felt a buzz in the crowd," Nowitzki said. "I head into the second quarter sitting on 18 and I remember walking out onto the court and everybody got up. So I got a little nervous and hoisted an airball. But I was able to regroup and made the next shot."
His history-making shot came with 10 minutes 58 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Before the game could be paused to celebrate his accomplishment, he hit a three-pointer, and then the Lakers called a timeout. The Mavericks mobbed Nowitzki and fans serenaded him with cheers. He walked back onto the court to wave a thank-you to them.
"Him and Kobe [Bryant] are going to be the only ones to play 20 years on one team," said Lakers forward Julius Randle, a Dallas-area native. "He won a championship out here. To this city, he is everything."
Randle made his own mark in the game, notching his third triple-double this season with 13 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. Randle became the first Laker to have three triple-doubles in one season since Bryant did it in the 2004-05 season.
Bryant is one of the six players (and three Lakers) in the 30,000-point club; he joined it in 2012 and ended his career last season as the No. 3 scorer in league history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA career scoring leader, and Wilt Chamberlain, fifth all time, are the others who reached the milestone in a Lakers uniform.
Perhaps fueled by Nowitzki's hot start, or the kind of confidence against the Lakers many teams seem to have, the rest of the Mavericks had strong shooting nights, too. Forward Wesley Matthews made five of nine shots — and all five baskets were three-pointers. Nowitzki, Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell all made at least half of their three-point attempts and more than half of their shots overall.
"I think teams feel like, when they play us right now, that we are a soft team that they can come in and get their offensive numbers against," Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. "It has to be up to us to change that, and the only way to change that is to do it out there on the court."
With the loss, their eighth in a row, the Lakers dropped to 19-45. Dallas (27-36) pulled to within two games of eighth-place Denver for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Nowitzki , meanwhile, joined Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Bryant, Michael Jordan and Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to score at least 30,000 points.
He has a habit of doing this to the Lakers. In 2010, he scored his 20,000th point over then-Laker Lamar Odom. Walton remembers it well.
"You're upset that it happens against you as a team," Walton said. "But he got a lot of points on other teams too. He's one hell of a player."