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Friday, January 13, 2012
Dirk Nowitzki tops 23,000 points

By Jeff Caplan
ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki surpassed 23,000 career points with the first of two free throws in the second quarter of Friday's blowout win against the Milwaukee Bucks, becoming the 23rd player in NBA history to reach the milestone.

Nowitzki becomes just the third active player to hit 23,000, joining Kobe Bryant (28,232) and Kevin Garnett (23,442).

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The 7-footer, now in his 14th season, finished Friday's game with just 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting in the 102-76 rout. He was only needed for 22 minutes as he played barely six in minutes in the second half, sitting with 23,008 career points.

"Twenty-three thousand is great, but I think I say it over and over, right now that's not really what I'm playing for," Nowitzki said. "All the milestones are going to be great when I look back on my career in 10, 15 years, but as of right now, I'm trying to keep going and help this team and this franchise win as many games as I can. We've been playing better so that's really all I'm worried about right now."

The Mavs won their season-best fourth in a row Friday and are now 7-5 after starting the season 0-3.

Nowitzki needs 326 points to surpass Elgin Baylor, Adrian Dantley and Robert Parrish and crack the top-20 on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said the 2006-07 league MVP and 2011 Finals MVP ranks among the all-time greats.

"He's one of 12 or 13 players to be a 10-time All-Star, a league MVP and a Finals MVP. So, that puts him in the top 12 or 13," Carlisle said. "I don't think that can be disputed. He's had a staggeringly awesome career. There's no debate now, he's up there."

Already this season, Nowitzki has recorded his 8,000th career field goal, his 1,200th 3-point bucket and surpassed 1,000 career games played.

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.