0647 GMT April 22, 2019
Things sure have changed in just a few months, AP reported.
Nowitzki is now closing in on another milestone and the Mavs are making a serious run at the playoffs.
Nowitzki had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Seth Curry scored 22 as Dallas beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-89 on Sunday night. Nowitzki tied his season high for rebounds and is 20 points away from becoming the sixth player to score 30,000. He'll likely set the mark at home, where Dallas plays its next three games.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks are 26-36 and just two games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, having won 12 of 19 overall and 10 of 12 at home.
"I want to play within the system," Nowitzki said. "I don't want to just hoist shots to get (the milestone). I want to help the team win. We're still chasing a playoff spot, and I think wins right now are more important. Whenever it happens, it happens."
Russell Westbrook scored 29 points after scoring more than 40 in each of his last four games. He had six rebounds and five assists, but the Mavericks frustrated him into both a technical foul and a flagrant-one foul. Both came in the midst of a 21-4 third-quarter run that allowed Dallas to blow the game open.
Westbrook picked up the technical with 8:15 to go in the third quarter when he bounced the ball angrily in referee Marat Kogut's direction after being called for an offensive foul. Then he got his flagrant with 4:27 to go in the quarter for shoving Harrison Barnes and sending him sprawling to the court.
Westbrook wouldn't discuss either play after the game, saying, "It happened. It's over with."
"He's a smart guy. He understands he'll have to do a good job there," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "I think he understands what's in front of him and what we need to do. I know the team is important to him and the win is important to him."
Barnes, who finished with 17 points, made the flagrant free throws and then another to give the Mavericks their biggest lead at 81-57.
"I probably won't be getting that invite to the NFL Combine," Barnes said of Westbrook's shove.
Steven Adams scored 19 for Oklahoma City, and Enes Kanter had 16.
Dirk Nowitzki (41) of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 5, 2017 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
DANNY BOLLINGER/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES