Now­itzki’s ad­mir­ers re­late

Houston Chronicle - - PRO BASKETBALL - Hunter Atkins

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.


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