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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Dirk nears 23,000 points, top 20 all-time

By Jeff Caplan

The milestones are coming fast and furious for Dirk Nowitzki. Through the first 10 games, he has already reached 8,000 career field goals, 1,200 career 3-pointers and he played in his 1,000th career game.

Tonight against the Boston Celtics, the 7-footer needs 19 points to reach 23,000 in his illustrious career. Nowitzki currently sits 23rd all-time in the NBA with 22,981 points. Another 354 points and Nowitzki will pass Boston Celtics great Robert Parrish and move into the top 20.

Nowitzki's scoring average this season is down at 18.9 points, but his minutes, 31.0 a game, are also being closely monitored because of the nature of the compacted schedule. He busted out of a two-game, 5-of-22 slump by hitting 9-of-10 shots for 18 points Tuesday night in the 100-86 win at Detroit.

"We all had a feeling that he was going to play a great game because the way the schedule is set up these last couple of days," coach Rick Calrisle said, nothing the Mavs had two days off before Tuesday's game after playing six games in eight nights.

Can Nowitzki get the 19 points tonight to become the 23rd player in NBA history to notch 23,000 points? Odds are good considering Boston's TD Garden is like a second home to him. Nowitzki's 27.8 scoring average there is his highest at any NBA venue and is the second-highest for any player there behind Michael Jordan's 29.3 average, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Also, Nowitzki's 27.4 career scoring average against the Celtics is his personal highest against a single team. He has the second-highest career scoring average against Boston among active players.

Here's some additional Dirk scoring tidbits:

* He passed Hal Greer (21,586), Larry Bird (21,791), Gary Payton (21,813) and Clyde Drexler (22,195) on the all-time scoring list in 2010-11.

* He ranks third among active players in career scoring, trailing only Kobe Bryant (28,192) and Kevin Garnett (23,426).

* Only three other players born outside of the U.S. have more career points than the 7-footer from Germany: Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946, born in Nigeria), Dominique Wilkins (26,668, born in France) and Patrick Ewing (24,815, born in Jamaica).