Nowitzki’s admirers relate
Considering retirement at the end of this season, his 20th in the NBA, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, 40, likely will make his final appearance at Toyota Center on Monday night.
He was the favorite player of Rockets guard Chris
Paul, when Paul was in high school.
“I used to shoot like him and land like him, and everything,” Paul said Sunday.
They teamed together on seven Western Conference All-Star teams.
“It’s going to be crazy to see him go,” Paul said. “The shooting. It’s crazy the way this league goes. Some people remember this Dirk, but for us to have played in the league — and that (2011 Mavericks) championship run, that’s the Dirk that I remember.” Growing up, guard Eric
Gordon also wanted to be like Nowitzki. The 7-foot German ranks seventh in all-time scoring (31,239 points).
“He was one of my favorite players growing up because he can really shoot,” Gordon said. “You’d never seen a big man who could shoot like that. A 7-foot guy with all those fadeaways, shooting over people, that higharching shot that he makes all the time. Stuff like that never gets old to watch.”
“That turnaround jumper is probably one of the most unstoppable shots the league has ever seen,” Paul said.
Gordon and Paul admired Nowitzki’s signature one-footed, step-back jump shot.
“He’s made some over me, that’s for sure,” Gordon said. “I’ve never seen too many people block his shot.”
Paul went a different direction when he would get switched on to defending Nowitzki.
“I used to stop that,” Paul said. “You can go check the footage, too. Dirk knew that when I was guarding him.
“He couldn’t put the ball on the floor.”
Paul suggested that led to countless steals.
“I was in the same division for a while,” Paul said, “so a lot.”
Bad shoulder? Harden shrugs
After a tangle with Thunder center Steven Adams,
James Harden walked to the Rockets’ locker room at halftime rubbing his left shoulder and wincing.
He received a massage and a heating wrap during the second half of the Rockets’ defeat.
“I just caught up with Adams,” Harden said. “He's a pretty strong guy. I'll be all right.”
He dismissed a question about whether his shoulder diminished his scoring ability.
“I’m not going to make excuses,” he said. “They played well. They made big-time shots. We didn’t have a great third quarter. That’s the story of the game.”
Coach Mike D’Antoni half-heartedly suggested Harden might be listed as probable Monday against the Mavericks at Toyota Center, but he suggested Harden will be fine and start.