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Dirk Nowitzki tops 30,000 points, Mavericks roll past Lakers, 122-111

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DALLAS (AP) Dirk Nowitzki scored the 20 points he needed for 30,000 in his career in barely more than a quarter, and the Dallas Mavericks celebrated with their second straight easy home win over the Los Angeles Lakers, a 122-111 victory Tuesday night.

The 7-foot German became the sixth NBA player and the first international one to reach the milestone, joining four Hall of Famers and a future one in Kobe Bryant. Nowitzki is one of three to score all 30,000-plus with one team. The others are Karl Malone (Utah) and Bryant (Lakers).

The 38-year-old Nowitzki matched the best first quarter in his 19 seasons by scoring 18 points, and reached the hallowed mark on a 15-foot fadeaway jumper from the baseline over Larry Nance Jr. with 10:58 remaining in the second quarter.

Nowitzki scored all of his 25 points – one shy of his season high – in the first half to send the Mavericks to a 31-point lead in the third quarter. This was the Lakers’ first visit to Dallas since setting a franchise record with a 49-point loss, a 122-73 blowout on Jan. 22.

“It’s been a crazy ride with a lot of ups and a lot of downs but you guys stuck with me and we hung in there,” Nowitzki told the crowd shortly after the final buzzer. “Hopefully a lot more to come.”

Dallas extended a franchise record with its 14th straight win over the Lakers, who got a triple-double from Julius Randle with 13 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists in their eighth straight loss.

After the signature shot for 30,000, Nowitzki added a 3-pointer for 23 points in the first 14 minutes before the game was stopped as teammates mobbed the wide-smiling star near midcourt.

Nowitzki waded through the huddle to get to the bench for more hugs and hand slaps, including one from owner Mark Cuban, then returned to the court to acknowledge the standing ovation.

“Dirk has been a model player and terrific ambassador for our game. This latest accomplishment further establishes his legacy as one of the NBA’s greatest players,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

Nowitzki finished the night at 30,005 and has said he plans to play a 20th season. If so, the 2007 MVP could have a shot at fifth-place Wilt Chamberlain, who has 31,419. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the career leader at 38,387.

With his ABA career included, Julius Erving is the seventh player to reach the mark.

Fans arrived with T-shirts draped over their seats that read “30K” behind a silhouette of Nowitzki’s signature one-legged fadeaway jumper.

Nowitzki got them going right away, scoring the first eight Dallas points on a long 2-pointer and a pair of 3s in the first 2:15. He was 9 of 12 from the field, 3 of 3 from beyond the arc and 4 of 4 on free throws before halftime. He missed his only shot of the second half.

A short video tribute was played when the game was stopped, followed by testimonials from former teammates and fans, even some Germans, during subsequent breaks in the game.

Jason Kidd, the point guard with Nowitzki on Dallas’ only championship team in 2011 and second in the NBA in career assists, joked that he should have passed more. Steve Nash, his best friend from the early years of his career, wondered what “ball hog” was in German.

The only glitch was Nowitzki’s first attempt at 30,000, an airball on another fadeaway jumper 10 seconds into the second quarter.

TIP-INS

Lakers: D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points apiece. Brandon Ingram and Nick Young joined Randle with 13 apiece. … Outscored Mavericks 37-19 in the fourth quarter.

Mavericks: Nowitzki had his 20th career half with at least 25 points. It was his first 25-point half since Nov. 16, 2008. The 18-point quarter was his highest since scoring 20 in the third quarter against New Orleans on Jan. 11, 2014. … The Mavericks led 70-52 at the half. It was their first 70-point half since scoring 72 in the first half of a 130-128 loss to Houston in Game 3 of a first-round playoff series in 2015.

UP NEXT

Lakers: At Phoenix on Thursday.

Mavericks: Home against Brooklyn on Friday.

Report: Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson in time for playoffs; deal for three-years, $12 million

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The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).

Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.

Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.

It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.

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Tuesday’s win gives Wizards first division crown since 1979

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Divisions are almost forgotten in the NBA. They exist still as quaint reminders of days gone by, but they don’t matter other than as a potential tie breaker with a non-division-winning team. Winning your division doesn’t even guarantee a team a playoff spot anymore.

Yet, the last time Washington had won a division title they were in the Atlantic division and when you turned on the radio you were likely to hear that new hit Heart Of Glass by Blondie. It was 1979.

That was until Tuesday when John Wall led a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter against the Lakers to get the Wizards the win and the SouthEast division title.

According to CBSSports.com, that 38-year division title drought was longer than any team in any major U.S. professional sports — NHL, NFL, and MLB.

Congrats to the Wizards. They also have locked up home court in the first round, and they are currently the No. 3 seed in the playoffs (who they face in the first round is up in the air still as only three games separate seeds five through nine).

With Scott Brooks at the helm this feels like a far more dangerous — and healthy — team heading into the postseason. Wizards fans have waited a lot time for a team like this.

Report: Pacers waive Rodney Stuckey, will likely add player before playoffs

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Rodney Stuckey was having a down year for the Pacers when he was healthy, averaging 7.2 points and 2.2 assists per game, with a well below average 48.3 true shooting percentage. Stuckey also was not healthy often, playing in just 39 games.

The Pacers are banged up — Glenn Robinson III and Al Jefferson are hurt — and need a healthy body on the roster for the playoffs, plus they weren’t going to pick up Stuckey’s $7 million option for next season anyway, so they chose to wave him Wednesday, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports.

The question now is who the Pacers bring in to fill that spot. With Jefferson down, do they lean on someone they know in Tyler Hansbrough? Is there someone out of the D-League or free agent pool that intrigues them?

The Pacers need to do something to start winning some games and making Paul George happy.

Paul George on Pacers after loss: “No sense of urgency, no winning pride”

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Indiana still has a 75 percent chance of making the playoffs (according to fivethirtyeight.com), they are two games clear of the nine seed with seven games to play.

But they fell to that seventh seed with a loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night, an evening that Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Miami all won. Chicago is the nine seed right now, lurking with its soft schedule, and looking for another team to slip up, and in a key game Indiana did.

The Pacers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night despite being at home and having a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Indy had no answer for Karl-Anthony Towns, who dropped 37. Paul George had 37 points as well, and afterwards pissed and frustrated would be good words to describe his mood. Here’s his quote, via Nate Taylor at the Indy Star.

“We should have a professional approach, man, and defend our home court, especially to a team that’s not even in the playoffs,” George said of losing to the Timberwolves (29-44). “That’s what it comes down to. As a team, we’ve got to have a grit and we’ve got to own up, man up….

“There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride,” he said. “This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”

If you don’t have urgency playing for your playoff lives with seven games left in the season, when will you have it?

Yes, this was a frustrated George venting after a loss. However, it also points again to the challenges Larry Bird and the Pacer front office have this summer — George wants to win, wants to play for a contender. Or if not that, maybe in his hometown. If George doesn’t make an All-NBA team (he likely just misses out, forward is a stacked position in the league right now) and the Pacers can’t offer him a “designated player” max, Indiana needs to put a contender around him, or consider trading him so they don’t lose him for nothing in a year. Both of those options present challenges come July.

In the short term, the Pacers need to make the playoffs. Even if they do, play like this against the Cavaliers (their current first-round matchup) or any of the other top-four teams in the East and Indy’s stay in the postseason will be short and uneventful.