Dallas Mavericks: Robert Parrish
He did it by hitting a patented elbow jumper while getting fouled by Chris Wilcox. The made free throw gave Nowitzki the three-point play for his seventh point of the game and the 23,335th point of his 14-year career.
Nowitzki hit another milestone in the opening minutes of the first quarter, recording his 1,000th career block. He swatted away Celtics guard Avery Bradley’s reverse layup attempt. Bradley was starting for suspended point guard Rajon Rondo.
Nowitzki becomes just the third player in NBA history with at least 1,000 blocks and 1,000 3-point field goals (Clifford Robinson and Rasheed Wallace).
The Mavs could see another milestone tonight if Jason Kidd makes a steal. He needs just one to move past Michael Jordan and become No. 2 on the NBA's all-time steals list.
Kidd has had at least one steal in each of the last eight games he's played (excluding the Jan. 27 game when he injured his right calf and left after just two minutes). In the last three games, Kidd has eight steals, including three Sunday in the loss to the Knicks, tying him with Jordan with 2,514 career steals.
So many of Kidd's thefts are a result of pure anticipation and pure instinct, understanding where an opposing player wants to go with the basketball and then almost ambushing the play.
"Jason reminds me of Larry Bird that way," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He has a unique anticipation, it’s almost savant-like. He kind of senses things before they happen, I mean he senses when a guy’s going to throw the ball into the post before the guy even knows he’s going to throw the ball into the post. And then Jason, he gets around and is able to knock it away and goes the other way. Bird was the same way, so he’s an all-time great, one of the best ever."
Dirk Nowitzki could reach two milestones tonight:
* He needs just seven points to pass Celtics great Robert Parish and claiming No. 20 on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Nowitzki's season-high 34 points on Sunday gives him 23,328 career points.
* He also still needs one block to reach 1,000 for his career.
"I got to keep playing because Jet wants to now pass Peja on the 3-point list," Kidd joked Friday. "And I don’t want him to pass me."
Jason Terry is eighth all-time in 3-pointers made and sits 90 behind No. 4 Peja Stojakovic and 145 away from the No. 3 man in NBA history, Kidd. Terry is four years younger so it figures he has the upper hand by the time both call it a career.
Not so fast. Who's saying Kidd plans on calling it a career any time soon? After completing the first practice Friday of his 18th NBA season -- and final one under contract with the Dallas Mavericks -- Kidd said he wants to play 20 seasons.
"I would like to get to 20," said Kidd, who turns 39 in March. "I think that would be a great feat through everybody forgetting my name and always just calling me old. You can call me '20' at that point. I think it’ll be something. As a kid, you just think about playing. When you look back at it if you can go past eight years than your like, 'Man I had a great career.' Now it’s going on 18, so why stop now?"
Especially after the remarkable postseason run Kidd put together in winning his first championship. He was spectacular with the ball in his hands and he received widespread praise for his defensive chops against some of the game's best offensive weapons, some of whom entered the league a decade or more after Kidd was drafted second overall by the Mavs in 1994.
"I feel great, so if I can survive this sprint of 66 games," Kidd said, "we’ll see how I feel come next year."
This season will be a unique challenge with the delayed start due to the labor strife. After a two-week training camp, one in which coach Rick Carlisle said he will tread lightly with his old-man at the point, the shotgun season takes off with an immediate back-to-back and no sympathy. There'll be 20 of those, plus a back-to-back-to-back and some wild stretches such as seven games in nine nights and nine in 12.
"You never know what happens in this league. You just play it out and hopefully my talent will stay at a respectable level that I can help a team out," Kidd said. "You know I would love to stay here and finish it out. I would like to get to 20 years. There's probably some individual goals there to be reached, some not to be reached, but we’ll see what happens."
Kidd won't get an extension this season, but there's no reason to believe that owner Mark Cuban wouldn't re-sign a still-effective Kidd for a 19th season and then even possibly to a 20th season when he would turn 41.
It would be quite a feat. Only Robert Parrish (21 seasons), Kevin Willis (21 seasons) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20 years) can claim 20-year NBA careers. This season Kidd will match Reggie Miller and Cliff Robinson at 18 seasons, and if he suits up for a 19th season he'll join Karl Malone and John Stockton.
As for individual records, Kidd is already second all-time in career assists and too far behind Stockton no matter how long he might play. He won't reach newly crowned 3-point king Ray Allen or Miller in second. However, Kidd is eyeing a move up one all-time chart and he won't need to play 20 seasons to get there. He needs just 38 steals to pass Michael Jordan for second all-time in steals. Kidd had 134 steals last season, plus another 40 in 21 playoff games.
"I have a good reference on this because I had Reggie Miller when he was 39 and at that point he was averaging 33, 34 minutes for us at Indiana and he was scoring 16 to 18 points a game and he was still big-time player," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Reggie chose to stop at age 39, he felt that was enough for him, but Jason Kidd is very similar to Reggie -- takes great care of his body, has great love and respect for the game and he’s adapted as the years have gone on, not only to the way the game has changed, but the way his skills have changed. And when I say his skills have changed, things he’s added to his game, not anything he’s lost. He’s a very unique person. You see guys like this about once or twice a decade."
Who knows how long Kidd can go? But, it is interesting that his goal of 20 seasons meshes with his 33-year-old teammate Dirk Nowitzki, who begins his 14th season with two more to go on his current contract.
"I would love to keep going," Kidd said. "I was joking with Dirk, I said we can retire together."
Through two playoff games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Nowitzki is shooting 38.1 percent, which would be a career playoff low, yet he's averaging 30.5 points, which would be a career playoff high.
How is that possible?
Aggression. That's right. Hard, physical drives by Dirk Nowitzki.
The 7-footer is taking the action to the Blazers, particularly in the fourth quarter when the Mavs start to go to him exclusively. He's not settling for step-back jumpers. He's battling LaMarcus Aldridge one-on-one, toe-to-toe and taking him to the rack. And it's paying off handsomely at the free throw line where Nowitzki is near perfect.
"I was real frustrated there for a minute," Nowitzki said. "But, hey, the fourth quarter, you’ve got to forget what happened the first three quarters and keep attacking. I made a strong move there right away and got two free throws right away at the start of the fourth, just like the first game. That always helps me get my rhythm."
In the two games, Nowitzki is 28-of-30 from the line. No player on either team has taken more than 12 free throws and he's the lone player on either team to attempt double-digit free throws in both games. In a head-to-head comparison of power forwards, Nowitzki has outscored Aldridge at the foul line 28-9 overall and 19-3 in the fourth quarter.
"Our main thing is trying to keep him off the free throw line," Blazers forward Gerald Wallace said. "It's tough when he's making shots and he's getting to the free throw line. Either or, you can't give up both."
While Nowitzki's overall shooting percentage is low, his fourth-quarter shooting has been mostly on-target. He's 6-of-11 from the floor and 1-of-1 from 3-point range. It was a clutch one from the corner that helped the Mavs pull away in Game 1. Mostly, Nowitzki has put his head down and gone to the basket.
It's a brand of toughness that Nowitzki doesn't always get credit for, but Carlisle said it's nothing new to him.
"I think he's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around, no question," Carlisle said. "I played several years with [Larry] Bird, [Kevin] McHale, [Robert] Parish, Dennis Johnson, those guys. He's right up there with those guys, what he's been able to do. You check his record his record in the playoffs, there aren't many guys in the history of the game that are up in that stratosphere of productivity, and games won."
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.