After 13 NBA seasons Nowitzki is at the height of his game PDF Imprimir E-mail

For the first time ever, there was obvious tread wear on Kobe Bryant's tires this season. The cracks in Tim Duncan's foundation began to show several years ago.

Yet Dirk Nowitzki's game still looks timeless, like it could go on forever.

LeBron James and Chris Bosh bolted to the beaches of Miami. Amar'e Stoudemire fled to the bright lights of New York.

Yet Nowitzki never really considered setting one foot outside of Dallas.

Longevity and loyalty, it turns out, are a difficult combination to beat.

It wasn't just the 48 points Nowitzki scored in the Mavs' 121-112 Western Conference finals opener win over the Thunder that were jaw-dropping, it was the ease with which he did it, coming on just 15 shots from the field.

It wasn't the NBA playoff record for most free throws in a game without a miss -- 24-for-24 -- that took your breath away, but the manner in which Nowitzki ran through nearly half the Thunder's roster that tried and failed to stop him.

Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Thabo Sefolosha might as well have been trying to hitch a ride on the winds of a twister. Nowitzki filled the lanes on the fast break to finish. He drove baseline to rattle the rim with dunks. He came off the pick-and-roll time and again to bury jumpers and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him.

"He's been doing it for a lot of years against a lot of great players," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "He had a good rhythm. He got off to a good start. He was making shots and then we were fouling his jump shots and he's a terrific jump-shooter."

Perhaps the most surprising thing about his stat line is that Dirk almost bagged a half-century without even attempting a single 3-point shot.

But the amazing thing is that in his 13th NBA season, Nowitzki doesn't appear to have lost even a half step or the slightest elevation on that reach-to-the-sky extension on his shots.

"Dirk spends a lot of time of time working on his game, keeping himself ready," said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.

Duncan is 35 and is just a shadow of the former MVP who carried the Spurs to four championships. Kobe, who has five championships on his belt, will turn 33 in August and at times this season and in the playoffs looked out of gas and out of ideas.

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