Nowitzki starts season No. 21

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PHOENIX (AP) - Dirk Nowitzki at last began his record-breaking 21st season with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, coming off the bench in the first quarter of a 99-89 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

No other NBA player has played that many seasons with the same team. He had been tied at 20 seasons with Kobe Bryant, who retired from the Los Angeles Lakers after the 2015-16 season.

Nowitzki, 40, had surgery to remove bone spurs from his left ankle last April. He made his first appearance in the lineup this season with 3:27 left in the opening quarter. A minute later, he banked in his first shot in his six-minute stint on the court. That was his only basket.

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