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News » Unlike any other Amazing start signals Dirk may have his best season yet

Unlike any other Amazing start signals Dirk may have his best season yet

Unlike any other Amazing start signals Dirk may have his best season yet Dirk Nowitzki has been unconventional ever since he arrived in Dallas a dozen years ago.

So maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that when the game was on the line Wednesday against San Antonio, Nowitzki was doing what he does best - but doing it in a most unusual way.

After blistering the Spurs with step-back jumpers, Nowitzki was pump-faking and ripping through the defense toward the basket. And finishing with layups and three-point plays.

It wasn't completely shocking. He's done it before. But when crunch time cometh, great players tend to stay in their wheelhouse, not stray toward plan B.

But that's the way Nowitzki rolls.

"Some guys approach the game by getting to the basket first,'' he said. "I usually try to open my drive up by making a couple jump shots, so I got it all messed up.''

Or, maybe, he's got it all figured out, and it's the rest of us who have it all wrong, because it's hard to argue Nowitzki's logic given the results.

"I was able to make a couple [of jumpers] in the second half and they were really pushing up on me, so I was able to get to the basket for some and-ones,'' he said. "I always approach it the other way. I want to get my shot going first, and that opens the drive for me.''

So far, just about every decision Nowitzki has made in the first 12 games of the Mavericks' season has been the right one. In only three weeks, he's piled up a list of outrageous accomplishments.

*He broke a franchise record with 29 points in the fourth quarter of a win over Utah.

*He's topped 40 points twice.

*He's averaging 27.5 points, pulling down 9.3 rebounds per game and averaging career highs in steals (1.08) and blocks (1.58).

The longer the 7-footer keeps doing this, the more he will creep up various lists, like most points. He'll also continue to ascend the mythical list of best international players, which is topped by Hakeem Olajuwon, most experts would agree.

Nowitzki credits a summer free of Basketball for making him even hungrier than usual early in the season. His competitive juices were ready to flow from the start.

He's always been a relatively quick starter. But this year he's found a new plateau. Even coach Rick Carlisle, whose job it is to keep a firm grip on perspective and reality, knows this has been a special run for the Mavericks' superstar.

"He's playing great, we know that,'' Carlisle said. "But we got to keep our eye on the ball. I'll grant you, he's been unbelievable - unbelievable. But I don't want to get too caught up in feeling good about how things have gone. You've got to move on to another game.''

Carlisle doesn't want that to sound like it's a what-have-you-done-lately statement. He's impressed, just like everybody else, as Nowitzki has been as good as anybody in the league so far.

Those who used to play against him are impressed, too.

"I had to chase him around, too,'' Drew Gooden said. "I chased him around when he was a [small forward]. I was looking at the defenders the other night, and I remember being in those shoes doing the same thing - and he hit that shot. Now I'm standing under the rim getting position, and I'm like: 'Do I keep fighting for position or just watch these shots keep going in?'"

Nowitzki didn't just attack the basket Wednesday. He also kept Tim Duncan from doing so in overtime. And in the first half, when neither shots nor foul calls were being made, Nowitzki kept his poise.

That, as much as anything, allowed him to perform heroics in the overtime win. After one of his drives to the rim, Nowitzki struck a bodybuilder's pose, flexing both biceps. He admitted he needs work on that particular move.

But the point was made.

"He's clutch,'' said Tim Thomas, another first-year Maverick . "I've been on the other side of it. He's one of those guys who has the most confidence in himself and his abilities. He might be struggling for a couple minutes, but he just continues to go after it.

"That's the mentality you want in a guy who is your franchise player.''

Foreign legion

Mavericks' beat writer Eddie Sefko, who has covered the NBA for 20 years, puts together his list of best players in league history who were born to international parents.

1. HAKEEM OLAJUWON: The Dream Shake remains one of the all-time great unstoppable moves.

2. Tim Duncan: The rings are the only things that put him above Nowitzki.

3. Dirk Nowitzki: Helped redefine the power forward position and continues to do so.

4. Steve Nash: Twice an MVP, he's still going strong when nobody expected him to.

5. Drazen Petrovic: His untimely death kept him from becoming maybe the best shooter ever.

Others receiving consideration: Yao Ming, Pau Gasol, Arvydas Sabonis, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Dikembe Mutombo, Hedo Turkoglu, Peja Stojakovic, Sarunas Marciulionis.

Fast starter

A look at Dirk Nowitzki's first 12 games this year vs. the last four seasons:

Year PPG FG Reb.

2009 27.5 .447 9.3

2008 24.7 .439 8.3

2007 20.7 .468 7.8

2006 26.4 .502 9.3

2005 25.3 473 8.6

7:30 p.m. today (FSSW)

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 21, 2009


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