Father Time had nothing to do with it, bro.
Yes, Barkley is the big mouth who declared earlier this season that Dirk’s days as an elite go-to guy were done. Nowitzki has acknowledged being motivated by that opinion –- he’s averaged 24.4 points per game since Barkley’s infamous appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3’s Galloway and Company –- but he’s definitely not bitter about it.
That’s because he has too much longtime love for Sir Charles, who dropped to the 20th leading scorer in NBA history.
“Charles was always kind of my hero,” Nowitzki said after his 31-point performance in Saturday’s win over the Rockets gave him 23,758 career points, one more than Barkley. “I always wore No. 11 in Germany, then I saw him wearing No. 14 in the Olympics in Barcelona, so then I changed my number to 14. Then when I came over, it became No. 41.”
There is a little irony in Nowitzki moving past Barkley in Houston, where Father Time caught up to the Round Mound of Rebound during a stint with the Rockets at the end of his career.
Nowitzki is probably done climbing the all-time scoring list this season. Boston’s Kevin Garnett is next on the list with 23,997 points and counting.
A few more notes from the Mavs’ win over the Rockets:
1. Brandan Wright’s block party: This might have been the best performance of backup big man Brandan Wright’s career. It certainly was the 2007 lottery pick’s best performance in a Mavericks uniform.
Wright scored 14 points (one shy of his season high) on 7-of-9 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 34 minutes off the bench. The stat that sticks out, however, is The Human Exclamation Point’s career-high seven blocked shots.
“He’s quick on his feet. He’s quick off his feet,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “Sometimes you think he’s got no shot to get to that ball, but one quick step and he’s basically elbow above the rim. He had some great blocks tonight.”
2. Matrix reloaded: No need to worry about whether the left knee that sidelined Shawn Marion for three games is still sore. Not after he put up 12 points and 15 rebounds on the butt end of a back-to-back.
It was the 400th double-double of Marion’s career.
“Marion’s back in a big way,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “He was terrific again. He’s guarding the key guy on their team, who was a point guard. He’s just really one of the unique guys that I’ve ever seen. The way he’s guarded every position on the floor this year, he’s Defensive Player of the Year material.”
"I'd like to think so," Carlisle said. "But I don't know that. I know the progress has been good. But we don't have a set timetable. I don't think it's impossible. The hope is sooner than later."