On a history-making night, the only thing that really mattered to Dirk Nowitzki was that the Mavericks moved one giant step closer to returning to the playoffs.

Nowitzki moved into the top 10 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, but the more important development was the Mavericks’ relatively simple 95-83 victory over the Utah Jazz to cap a season-turning 4-0 road trip.

The win reduced the Mavericks’ magic number for clinching a playoff berth to two. Any Mavericks wins or Memphis losses totaling two will punch Dallas’ ticket to the postseason after a one-year hiatus.
A remarkable offensive game, including a franchise-best shooting display in the first quarter, freed up the Mavericks for a stress-free night after a slew of dramatic finishes over the last two weeks.

And of course, Nowitzki put yet another of his stamps on the NBA record book when he dropped in a fadeaway jumper late in the third quarter. That basket pushed him ahead of Oscar Robertson for 10th on the NBA’s scoring list.

“It’s definitely surreal,” Nowitzki said. “Passing the Big O and knowing that only nine guys ever in this league scored more than me, that’s crazy to think where I came from, a little dump in Wurzburg, Germany. It’s been an amazing ride. Hopefully, I can have a couple more good years and see where I end up.”

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle put it in perspective.

“This is my 30th year in the NBA, and it’s one of the few times I’ve truly been in awe of an accomplishment,” he said. “Top-10 all-time scorers is an unbelievable accomplishment. It’s a level of excellence that’s beyond belief and being able to do it over time. And he’s going to keep eating up more people.

“He’s an original. He’s a generational player, a once-in-25-years type of guy that comes along. He’s changed the game. You get into the top 10 of all-time scoring, that’s rare air there.”
Nowitzki’s achievement came as the Mavericks were having one of their best shooting nights of the season.