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NBA trending topics: Mavericks' Nowitzki nears 30,000th career point

NBA trending topics: Mavericks' Nowitzki nears 30,000th career point
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki plans to return for one more season. (LM Otero / Associated Press)

A historic week in Dallas for Dirk Nowitzki now appears as inevitable as a defender's helpless feeling when Nowitzki leans back to fire a shot with his right knee up.

A strained Achilles' spoiled Nowitzki's early season, when he missed 25 of the first 41 games, but that made for ideal timing now. Nowitzki should reach 30,000 career points while the Mavericks are on a five-game homestand.

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Nowitzki scored his 20,000th point against the Lakers in 2010, and on Tuesday night he might put the Lakers in his 2022 Hall of Fame enshrinement video again with his 30,000th point. He will be the sixth player to score 30,000 in the NBA, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

The iconic 19-year Maverick's feat is a season highlight for Dallas, which is clutching to playoff hope because the West runs only seven deep this season.

This is not Nowitzki's farewell. He plans to return for one more season, but his health, playing time and shooting percentage have plunged this season. He moved to center so Harrison Barnes could become Dallas' most important player. Regardless, Nowitzki is the franchise's most important player ever.

ROY race reopens

Philadelphia's Joel Embiid was so far ahead in the Rookie of the Year race that the only way he could be caught was if he stopped running.

With a knee-meniscus tear ending his season after 31 appearances, Embiid is at a standstill for teammate Dario Saric to catch up.

Benefitting from Embiid's absence, Saric ended February by scoring at least 18 points in eight consecutive games. He averaged 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists for February with an original mix of skilled big-man play and fearless toughness.

The Croatian is The Process II, another Philadelphia product of the 2014 draft. Embiid went third and missed two seasons because of foot surgeries while Saric remained overseas after the 76ers tabbed him 12th in 2014.

It might be hard not to pick Embiid for Rookie of the Year even though he only will play one-fifth of Philadelphia's minutes for the season. His 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game blew away all rookies and was nearly All-Star worthy. Milwaukee second-round pick Malcolm Brogdon could gain award interest for his full season of production.

Golden State of mind

The Warriors' Kevin Durant will come back. Before then, San Antonio might come back, too.

San Antonio is the type of team that would not expend resources for a No. 1 chase at the risk of not being at optimum for the playoffs. But being a close second in the West with Durant out injured until early April makes for a tantalizing prize.

A No. 1 seed eases the postseason route with a No. 8 seed that will be decidedly worse than the West's No. 7 seed. The Warriors are no easy catch but have dropped two games in a row despite still having more active All-Stars (three) any other West team.

$3,500-per-minute pay

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Jose Calderon fell out of the Lakers' youth movement and then fell out of the Warriors' championship formula, but the week was not all bad.

The pay cut Calderon was risking to ask for a Monday waiver from the Lakers was going to be covered by a Warriors waiver claim on Wednesday. In between, Durant's injury changed Golden State's primary need from a third-string point guard to a Durant replacement.

The Warriors did not renege on the Calderon agreement, claiming him off waivers Wednesday for a $415,000 price and waiving him two hours later so they could add Matt Barnes instead.

Come again?

Guess which sport Utah teenager Stockton Malone Shorts plays.

He not only wound up a basketball player but a good one. He received the name because his Salt Lake City-area parents had an affinity for John Stockton's and Karl Malone's play, demeanor and work ethic.

Shorts does not wear the yesteryear shorts but he does don Stockton's No. 12 for his high school team. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 24 points this season and stepped up like his namesakes with a 32-point performance in a state quarterfinal game Wednesday.

Looking ahead

GOLDEN STATE AT NEW YORK: Sunday at 12:30 p.m. PDT. TV: ABC.

The Knicks have been one of the NBA's worst teams since mid-December and Golden State is playing without Durant until April because of a knee sprain. That makes a mismatch interesting. Madison Square Garden was the home to Stephen Curry's career-high 54-point game in 2013 and might be in store for another flurry if he needs to play in the fourth quarter. Surprisingly, New York is the only team to hold Curry to a single-digit scoring game this season (eight points on three-for-14 shooting).

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