Giving Dirk another day off might do good

December, 21, 2009
How unexpected was Sunday night’s victory over Cleveland without Dirk Nowitzki?

How unexpected was it statistically speaking?

The Mavericks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, hadn’t won a game against a team 10 games over .500 without Nowitzki since April 2002. They lost five such games in the interim before stunning the Cavs, 102-95, with what was easily Dallas’ most focused and impressive performance at home all season.

So what happens next?

Dirk being Dirk, I’d fully expect him to try to play Tuesday night against Portland. But the smarter option might be resting Nowitzki for one more game, which does two things:

1. It’ll allow Nowitzki to have a full week off before making his comeback in Saturday’s matinee against Memphis on the day after Christmas. He’ll hate sitting out that long, but it’s probably the best thing for an elbow that is still way too sore to allow him to shoot the ball properly or absorb any sort of significant contact.

2. It’ll give Josh Howard, Drew Gooden and Sunday hero Tim Thomas one more game to inherit all of Dirk’s shots and touches and build on what they did to the Cavs. Thomas got most of the attention with 22 points and seven boards starting in Nowitzki’s place, but Gooden’s 10-point first half and 12 points, eight boards and two blocks overall will be recorded as his first double-figure scoring game all month after five double-doubles in November.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer,
• Senior NBA writer for
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?


Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Rick Carlisle

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.

Galloway & Company: Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Mark Cuban talk

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: The Standoff

Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Ramona Shelburne

ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Buy or sell

Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.


Dirk Nowitzki
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2