DALLAS -- On the night he moved up another spot on the NBA's all-time scoring list, Dirk Nowitzki briefly chatted with Kobe Bryant and offered a playful warning to the only active player with more career points than him.
"I told him that I was going to catch him," Nowitzki said after his Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 102-98 with Bryant resting and watching from the bench. "But that's going to be tough."
Nowitzki now stands eighth among scorers in NBA history, five spots behind Bryant, after passing Hall of Fame forward Elvin Hayes on Friday night.
Nowitzki needed six points entering the game to pass Hayes, who finished his career with 27,313 points, and did so on a midrange jumper off a feed from Monta Ellis on the opening possession of the second half.
Nowitzki, who has been battling a stomach illness for about two weeks, finished the game with 14 points in 24 minutes, giving him 27,322 points in his career.
"I'm fortunate to have great teammates to put me in position to keep scoring, even as I'm older," said Nowitzki, a 36-year-old who has spent his entire 17-year career with the Mavs. "It's been fun. Still competing at a high level and hopefully will win a lot more games these last couple of years, which really means more to me right now than all the points. But it's definitely been a fun ride."
Nowitzki, who is averaging 18.5 points per game this season, likely will pass Moses Malone (27,409 career points) in early January to move into seventh on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
With 32,365 points and counting, Bryant is almost certainly out of reach for Nowitzki. However, Nowitzki should pass Shaquille O'Neal (28,596 points) next season and has a chance to move into the top five by passing Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) before he retires.
"It's hard to describe what we're seeing in real time," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's making it look sort of easy. The amount of work that's gone into him getting to this point in his career is something that none of us will ever really be able to fathom. It's not an accident."