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Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki to play Sunday

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is expected to return to the floor for Sunday’s game against the Houston Rockets after missing their previous contest on Friday due to an illness. He fully participated in practice on Saturday and will make the trip with the team to Houston.

The 38-year-old German-born Nowitzki is in the midst of his 19th NBA season, having joined Dallas after being taken ninth overall in the 1998 NBA Draft. He has gone on to become a 13-time All-Star, a four-time All-NBA First Team selection, and the league’s MVP back in 2007. He’s currently sixth all-time in NBA history in scoring and is the active leader, with LeBron James still more than 2,000 points behind him.

After 12 consecutive years of averaging at least 20 points per game from 2000-2012, Nowitzki has rarely shown signs of slowing down in the box score. While he has noticeably shown the effects of the wear and tear on his body, he still averaged 18.3 points and 6.5 rebounds last season, while shooting 89 percent from the free throw stripe.

The Mavericks have had to delicately balance building their team for life after Nowitzki, inking free agent forward Harrison Barnes to a max contract during the off-season. They have developed forward Dwight Powell behind him, who has shown flashes of brilliance, as well as forward Justin Anderson when the team decides to go with a smaller lineup.

Sans his rookie season, Nowitzki has never averaged fewer than 17.3 points per game. Despite his age, he’ll still be an integral part of the Mavericks offense during the 2016-17 season.

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