DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki vividly remembers watching Hakeem Olajuwon from his home in Germany as a teenager in the 1990s.
That’s one of the reasons his latest move up the NBA scoring list was special for the 7-foot Dallas star. Another would be the milestone coming at home when the Mavericks rallied from 24 points down to win.
Nowitzki had 23 points to surpass Olajuwon as the highest-scoring player born outside the U.S., and the Mavericks came from way behind on Tuesday night to beat Sacramento 106-98 for their 21st straight regular-season win at home against the Kings.
"You know to pass ‘The Dream’ is unbelievable," said the 36-year-old Nowitzki, in his 17th season with the Mavericks. "He was unguardable on the block. His footwork, his skill level, his hands, his touch was second to none, so I’m pretty proud."
Nowitzki hit a jumper from just inside the 3-point line early in the fourth quarter to pass Olajuwon at No. 9, and he finished the night at 26,953 career points. That’s seven more than the 7-footer from Nigeria, who starred for 17 years in Houston before retiring in 2002 after one season in Toronto.
Before Nowitzki’s milestone, Monta Ellis scored 10 of 16 points in the third quarter, including a fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer after the Mavericks had taken their first lead.
Rudy Gay scored 26 and Ramon Sessions had 18 for the Kings, who were outscored 58-28 from the middle of the second quarter to the end of the third. Sacramento matched the franchise’s largest blown lead since at least 2000-01, according to STATS.
"What’s the word I’m looking for?" asked DeMarcus Cousins, who had 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists but combined with Gay for 12 of Sacramento’s 20 turnovers, 15 in the second half. "Trying to say this without getting in trouble. They had a momentum swing."
Chandler Parsons, who was 2 of 20 from the field the previous two games, scored eight points in a little more than a minute to get the Mavericks within five in the third, and Ellis put them in front for the first time on a layup for a 69-67 lead.
Parsons finished with 19 points and was 5 of 11 from 3-point range after missing all 11 from beyond the arc in the previous three games. Tyson Chandler had his third straight double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Kings: They have a playoff win in Dallas since their last regular-season win. Sacramento won 94-92 in Game 4 of the first round in 2004 on the way to a 4-1 series victory. … Darren Collison, who lost the job as the starting point guard his only season in Dallas when the Mavericks’ 12-year playoff streak ended in 2012-13, didn’t get to play against his former team because of a shoulder injury.
Mavericks: Dallas matched the third-biggest comeback in franchise history. It’s the third time the Mavericks have come back from 24 down. … The 21-game home winning streak against Sacramento is the longest against one team in Dallas franchise history. … Next on the scoring list for Nowitzki is Elvin Hayes with 27,313.
FAST START, SLOW FINISH
Sacramento looked poised to win a regular-season game in Dallas for the first time since Feb. 27, 2003. Instead, the Kings dropped their second straight after a 5-1 start.
The Kings held Dallas to 14 points on 24 per cent shooting in the first quarter and led 44-20 early in the second. But they went cold in the third, shooting 26 per cent and getting outscored 30-15.
Ben McLemore hit all three of his 3-pointers in the first quarter, when the Kings outscored Dallas 32-14. But he made just one of five from long range the rest of the game and finished with 17 points.
NELSON DOWN, MAYBE NOT OUT
Jameer Nelson didn’t return after leaving with a right hamstring injury in the third quarter. But Dallas is hopeful its starting point guard won’t be out long, if at all. "It was scary," coach Rick Carlisle said. "He hit the ground, he felt something, but he did return and I was told that he was able to go back in the game." Nelson said he didn’t expect to miss any games.
Kings: Finish four-game road trip at Memphis on Thursday.
Mavericks: Host Philadelphia on Thursday.