There used to be a time when Dirk Nowitzki wouldn't dare put himself in position to take a potential game-winning shot.

Times have indeed changed.

Not only is Nowitzki the Dallas Mavericks' No. 1 go-to guy in clutch situations, but he's also relishing the pressure-packed role.

"I think early in my career it was a situation I wasn't quite comfortable with," said Nowitzki, an 11-time All-Star. "And we had Steve [Nash] and Mike [Finley], who are the go-to players.

"I think over the years when Steve and Mike left, it was kind of like, 'Hey, you've got to grow in those situations, and here's the ball and make something happen.' And now I feel comfortable."