Nowitzki had 19 points, including consecutive shots from long range in the third quarter to move up to 16th in career scoring, and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Washington Wizards 105-95 Tuesday night.
The 7-foot German will go down as the best-shooting big man in league history whenever he retires, so it was fitting that the 35-year-old was 26 feet from the basket when he supplanted the man whose silhouette serves the NBA logo.
"Jerry is the man," said Nowitzki, who finished the night with 25,197 points and now goes after Reggie Miller for 15th at 25,279 points. "He is the logo and that says it all. It has been a great ride."
Trevor Ariza led the Wizards with 27 points, including five 3-pointers. He also had seven rebounds and four steals.
Monta Ellis started slowly from the field before scoring 10 in the fourth quarter to help the Mavericks improve to 4-0 at home this season. Ellis matched Nowitzki with 19.
The Nowitzki was struggling from the field before a loose ball bounced to him above the key. The 11-time All-Star and 2007 MVP grabbed it, turned and hit a shot to get within a point of West's record.
On Dallas' next possession, Gal Mekel passed to Nowitzki a few feet left of the previous spot, and Nowitzki pulled up and hit another from long range with 59.9 seconds left in the third.
That bucket gave him 16 points for the game and put him ahead of West, who scored 25,192 in 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1960-74. He went on to become their general manager and later a Memphis Grizzlies executive.
Nowitzki, who is in his 16th season, ended up 8 of 19 from the field with eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
"Yeah, I suppose it was (fitting), although Jerry West never shot a 3," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "If there had been a 3-point line back then, this milestone would have come later. He's going to pass more big names in the weeks and months to come."
Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Washington.
The Wizards had their last lead early in the second quarter, but were down just 89-84 when Ellis hit a pull-up jumper and was fouled by Bradley Beal, who was held to nine points on 2-of-10 shooting two nights after scoring a career-high 34 in an overtime loss at Oklahoma City.
"That's the confusing part," Beal said. "We played so aggressively and so hard against OKC. It was like Game 7 of the finals or something. Then now, we come out tonight and not have that same mentality."
Ellis' bucket over Beal was his first shot of the fourth quarter after he had gone 3 of 10 through the first three.
Ellis missed the free throw, but the Wizards couldn't convert on three chances at the other end. After Nene lost the ball out of bounds trying to make a post move, Shawn Marion hit a runner to put Dallas back up by nine.
"He's going to keep attacking," Nowitzki said of Ellis. "All good scorers in this league are like that. He was phenomenal in the fourth quarter. He kept that cushion for us."
Nowitzki hit a runner to give the Mavericks their biggest lead at 71-56, but the Wizards went on an 18-6 run to make it a game again. Ariza had 11 points during the run, including a 3-pointer and a dunk on consecutive possessions.
John Wall had assists on five straight buckets during the spurt and finished with 10. Wall and Nene scored 14 apiece.
Carter started a 16-2 Dallas run in the second quarter with a 3-pointer, and Ellis finished it with a nifty reverse layup to put the Mavericks up 49-38.
After the Wizards got within four, Jose Calderon made a 3-pointer and Carter hit another 3 at the shot clock buzzer to give Dallas a 59-49 lead in the final minute of the first half. Carter was 4 of 9 from long range.
The Mavericks scored seven points in one trip late in the first quarter to turn a 29-23 deficit into a 30-29 lead.
Jae Crowder was fouled on a driving bank shot and missed the free throw, but DeJuan Blair grabbed the rebound before hitting a shot and getting fouled. His missed free throw was tipped by Carter to Mekel, who passed back to Carter for a 3-pointer from the left wing.
"That's just commitment to rebounding," Washington coach Randy Wittman said. "Just not ready. I don't know what to say about that. Inexcusable."
The teams combined to shoot 60 percent in a 67-point first quarter, which ended with the Wizards in front 34-33. ... Mavericks G Wayne Ellington sat out with a right thigh contusion. ... Mavericks G Devin Harris says he's targeting a mid-December return from offseason toe surgery.