Nowitzki passed Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller for the 15th spot when he hit a free throw with 2:11 remaining in the first half of the Mavs' 123-120 win over the Houston Rockets. Miller finished his Hall of Fame career with 25,279 points, 16 more than Nowitzki had entering the night.
After a vintage outing, Nowitzki has 25,298 career points. He poured in a season-high 35 points on 13-of-20 shooting, including 14 points in the fourth quarter as the Mavs rallied from 14 down to pull off the comeback victory.
"That's not bad," Nowitzki deadpanned after the win, referring to passing Miller. "Obviously I didn't think when I first got here that 15, 16 years later, I'd be in the top 15 of scoring all-time, so it's great. It was a great night, but I'm really more happy about the win, to be honest. That means more to me right now than any of the records."
Nowitzki bumped Jerry West down a spot on the all-time scoring list during the Mavs' Nov. 12 win over the Washington Wizards. Nowitzki would project to finish the season 10th on the list if he stays healthy and continues scoring at his current clip of 20.6 points per game.
"Dirk doesn't care about milestones," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said before the game. "He could care less. Knowing Dirk, he'd stick on 16 for the next two years if we would win games. That's all he cares about is winning. He really doesn't care about that stuff."
Brooklyn Nets center/forward Kevin Garnett ranks 14th on the all-time scoring list with 25,340 career points. The next retired player that Nowitzki would pass is Alex English, who scored 25,613 points in his career.