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Sports

Dirk Nowitzki's Mavericks clinch NBA playoff berth

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks have clinched their 15th NBA playoff berth in the past 16 seasons. The German has also become just the 15th player in NBA history to score a career total of 1,700 three pointers.

The Mavericks clinched at least the seventh spot in the Western Conference as they punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 101-92 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night. The

37-year-old Nowitzki

helped lead the way for Dallas scoring 22 points and collecting 11 rebounds in the crucial away win. Only former Jazz player Deron Williams scored more for the Mavs, putting 23 points on the board.

"This team deserved to make the playoffs," Nowitzki, a native of Würzburg, said after the game.

Nowitzki hit four 3-pointers during the game,

giving him 1,700 in his career, which makes him just the 15th player in NBA history to reach that mark.

Monday night's victory capped off a late surge towards the playoffs, in which head coach Rick Carlisle's team won seven of their last eight games.

"It's been an amazing two weeks. Our guys looked like they were down and out, and we all dug in. Everyone dug in, especially the players, and we found a way to get into the playoffs," Carlisle said. "Tonight was game seven. That's the way we approached it."

The Mavericks are no strangers to the postseason, with the 2011 NBA champions having qualified for the playoffs in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

All but one of the 16 playoff berths have been decided, with the last to go to either Utah or Houston, depending on how things pan out when the regular season wraps up on Wednesday.

pfd/ftm (SID, dpa, AP)

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