Minute Men: Dirk Nowitzki's minutes up, shot off
February, 2, 2012
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
Our weekly look at how coach Rick Carlisle is managing the minutes of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd during this 66-game schedule:
DALLAS -- Nowitzki sat out four games last week to undertake a personal training program. This week Jason Kidd is down again, this time with a strained right calf.
Kidd has missed the last three games and will sit at least two more. Meanwhile, Nowitzki still can't find his jumper as his minutes piled up in his three games back, twice stretched out to 38 minutes, including Wednesday night when he finished with eight points. The 104 total minutes he logged in those games marks a high for any three-game stretch this season. He logged 103 minutes in the three games prior to his break.
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"I'm staying very closely connected with [Mavs head athletic trainer] Casey [Smith] on the minute situation, and we'll go from that,'' Carlisle said. "But that's about all I can tell you at this point.''
Carlisle preached patience after Nowitzki's 2-of-15 performance for eight points in Wednesday's 95-86 loss to the Thunder. It will be interesting to see if Carlisle makes it a priority to scale Nowitzki's minutes back down to 33 or so no matter how closely contested a game is moving forward. That challenge begins Friday night when the much-improved Indiana Pacers (15-6) come to town.
Here's a look at where they stand:
Season averages: 28.7 mpg, 4.1 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.5 rpg
The breakdown: There's no other way to say it than to acknowledge how awful the start of the season has been for the proud Kidd, who started things off by talking about playing an additional two seasons to reach 20 at age 40. He's currently nursing a second injury, has missed six games and counting and his game has been awful. In addition to the slumping numbers above, Kidd's shooting percentages (28.2 overall, 25.8 on 3s) are at rock bottom -- at least he would hope.
Season averages: 31.5 mpg, 16.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.3 rpg
The breakdown: Talk about rock bottom, surely not even Dirk thought he could have a night like Wednesday, going 2-of-15 from the field and 0-of-5 from beyond the arc. He continues to say his troublesome right knee is getting better and that swelling is no longer an issue. That's the good news. The bad news is his jumper has never looked so ragged. His shooting percentages are staggering -- 43.0 overall and 17.8 on 3s, the lowest of his career. At some point, it figures Dirk is going to pop, but after Wednesday's game even he Dirk said, "I don't know what to tell you."