Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Ewing
Dirk Nowitzki moved ahead of Iverson with a contested 12-foot jumper with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Suns. That bucket gave Nowitzki 24,370 career points.
Nowitzki finished the win over the Suns with 18 points, giving him 24,375 for his career. Patrick Ewing, who had 24,815 points, is next on the list for Nowitzki to surpass.
"I was thinking that Kareem was next, but I've still got a ways to go," Nowitzki said.
Nowitzki insists he hasn't spent much, if any, time thinking about how far up the list he can shoot. His thoughts recently have been consumed with how he can regain his Hall of Fame form after getting off to a slow start by his standards following a 27-game absence while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.
"It’s going to be great once my career is over and I see how many points I scored, but right now, I’m just trying to get myself going more," Nowitzki said. "I feel better and better from game to game, which is great. I feel like I moved a lot better today, I got a little bit more lift on my jump shot. That’s all I’m really worried about now.
"And we’ll see how many points I scored when it’s all said and done."
Let's put into perspective just how rare a point-per-minute feat that was.
*There are only two active players who can claim to have scored 40 points while playing 30 or fewer minutes. The last player to do that was Rodrigue Beaubois, who lit up the Warriors for 40 points in 29:52 off the bench as a rookie two seasons ago. J.R. Smith did it twice while with Denver.
*You have to go all the way back to 1994 to find a 40-point performance in fewer minutes. Indiana center Rik Smits had 40 points in 27 minutes against the Sixers.
*There have been only 14 40-point, 30-or-fewer-minute performances since 1986-87, according to basketball-reference.com's database. The players to pull off the feat in reverse chronological order: Nowitzki, Beaubois, Smith (twice), Gilbert Arenas, Stephon Marbury, Gary Payton, Smits, Walt Williams, Terry Porter, Michael Jordan, Sleepy Floyd, Patrick Ewing and Larry Bird.
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).
He'll likely do it at the most hallowed venue in the NBA, Madison Square Garden, where the Mavs face the New York Knicks and seek a sixth consecutive victory. It would rank as their second-longest of the season (12 from Nov. 20 - Dec. 11).
Nowitzki, averaging 23.1 points, passed Larry Bird and then Gary Payton in December to move up to 24th on the league's all-time scoring list. Next up is Clyde Drexler with 22,195 points. Nowitzki could possibly overtake Drexler before All-Star Weekend. He'd likely have already secured 23rd on the all-time list if Nowitzki had not missed nine games with a sprained right knee.
Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, who the Mavs will visit Friday, ranks 22nd on the all-time scoring list with 22,852 points.
Nowitzki’s point total, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, ranks him fourth in league history among players born outside of the 50 states. The top five: Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946, born in Nigeria), Dominique Wilkins (26,668, France), Patrick Ewing(24,815, Jamaica), Nowitzki (21,987, West Germany) and Tim Duncan (21,294, Virgin Islands).
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.