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Oh, by the way, Dirk Nowitzki dropped 40

3/4/2012

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki got dressed, looked around the locker room and waited for a minute, but a reporter never headed his way.

Heck, all the dude had done Saturday night was score a season-high 40 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 102-96 win over the Utah Jazz, snapping a season-worst four-game losing streak.

Nevertheless, the media mass was fully focused on figuring out the Lamar Odom saga as much as possible, peppering the multi-skilled forward with questions after Odom’s impressive return from a self-imposed four-game sabbatical.

This has been such a strange week that Odom, who played 18 energetic, effective minutes, was the center of attention on the night the face of the Mavs’ franchise had one of the most efficient scoring performances of his Hall of Fame career. That didn’t bother Dirk one bit.

“Way to go, L.O.!” Nowitzki hollered over the media horde as he finally headed out of the locker room.

But Nowitzki’s brilliance shouldn’t be overlooked.

Nowitzki needed only 21 shots and 29 minutes to hit 40, which are both lows among the 17 40-point performances he had had in regular-season games during his 14-year career. He scored 24 of the Mavs’ 33 points during one stretch that spanned the second and third quarters and finished with a 10-point flurry in the final six minutes, thwarting a Jazz rally.

“His shotmaking was there from the very beginning of the game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The guys knew that and kept getting him the ball. He delivered all night long.”

Nowitzki made 14 of his 21 attempts, the majority of which were swished jumpers from his midrange sweet spots. He also hit three 3-pointers, including one that required a little luck: a contested, off-balance, unintentional bank shot.

Hey, when a Hall of Fame shooter gets hot, he’s going to get a bounce or two.

“He made shot after shot,” said Jason Terry, who was the only other Maverick in double figures with 22 points. “He hit a couple of shots there that you’re like, ‘Yeah, he’s starting to find his rhythm.’ Big fella is feeling good. He’s starting to get a little bounce in his step.”

Big fella bounced right out of the locker room, just fine with his 40-point performance not being the big story.