- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN ANTONIO – The spotlight after Friday night’s loss to the Spurs was on the Mavericks power forward who didn’t play.
Good thing for the guy who logged 37 minutes at the position for the Mavs.
“I had a brutal night,” Dirk Nowitzki said.
That description was accurate, unlike the vast majority of Nowitzki’s jumpers at the AT&T Center. The perennial All-Star had perhaps his worst performance since his early-season struggles, scoring 16 points on 5-of-21 shooting and grabbing a grand total of two rebounds.
Nowitzki missed his last 13 shots from the floor. He scored only four points in the second half, all on free throws.
“I actually felt good at the beginning of the game,” Nowitzki said. “Just during the game, I couldn’t get the ball up in there. They were short. Wide-open 3s were even short. I just didn’t have enough to get the ball up today.”
Added coach Rick Carlisle: “We have to work on getting him some cleaner looks. But he had some that he normally makes that he didn’t make tonight.”
Dirk didn’t have a rebound until the fourth quarter. While he attributed the off shooting night to heavy legs, Nowitzki made no excuses for such a poor performance on the glass.
“That’s my bad,” Nowitzki said. “I don’t care, you can always box out and rebound.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ second straight lopsided loss to a Western Conference contender:
1. Matrix’s return: Want some good news? Shawn Marion's left knee didn’t bother him in his return from a three-game absence.
“I felt good,” Marion said. “Once I got out there, I was able to stay warm and keep my body going. That’s pretty much it. I got a little winded there a couple of times, but for the most part, my wind was pretty good.”
Marion was one of the more productive Mavs, scoring 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 31 minutes. He did a more than respectable job defending Manu Ginobili, who had 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting and seven assists.
2. Custodian’s dirty work: Brian Cardinal made his mark on the game – or on Tim Duncan’s face, at least.
“The Custodian” was called for a flagrant foul when he inadvertently raked Duncan in the face, sending the Spurs legend sprawling to the floor. That was the only statistic recorded by Cardinal in 4:20 on the floor, during which the Spurs outscored the Mavs by 10 points.
As you might imagine, Cardinal wasn’t exactly a popular guy at the AT&T Center, drawing the wrath of the Spurs faithful. Duncan shrugged it off after the game – “That’s just basketball,” he said – but San Antonio’s Stephen Jackson had some choice words for Cardinal.
“To me, it was a dirty play,” Jackson told the San Antonio Express-News. “When you can’t play no more, I guess all you can do is go out and try to hurt people.”
3. Kidd’s birthday bummer: The Spurs spoiled Jason Kidd's 39th birthday.
For a few minutes, it appeared it might be a storybook birthday celebration for Kidd, who got the hot hand from 3-point range to briefly give the Mavs the lead in the third quarter. Kidd ended up with an unusual line in the box score for him: 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds and only one assist. It’s only the second time in Kidd’s career he had only one assist while playing more than 30 minutes.
Nevertheless, Kidd did have one good reason to celebrate.
“I’m still in the thirties,” Kidd cracked.
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