DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki started the game in one of those German grooves. Then he was just a guy for most of the night.
The face of the Mavs’ franchise was in Hall of Fame form for the first five minutes Friday night. He hit his first four shots from the floor -- a driving layup, a one-legged leanaway off a post-up, an and-1 midrange jumper and a 3-pointer -- before the botox folks filled up the AAC’s lower bowl.
Then Dirk got a grand total of five shots the next two and a half quarters. Huh?
That definitely isn’t the only reason the Trail Blazers turned a 15-point deficit into an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but it definitely didn’t help matters for the Mavs.
“It’s always like I start out hot, get out at the same [time], like six minutes in the first quarter and didn’t get a shot,” Nowitzki said after the 99-97 overtime loss to the Trail Blazers. “Basically one shot in the second, one shot in the third. Then we’re down eight and it’s like, ‘Hey, here you go. You’ve got the ball now. Now make something happen.’
“It’s tough. I’ve got to be able to keep myself in rhythm and keep getting touches throughout the game.”
Dirk wasn’t bad the rest of the game, but he didn’t dominate after sitting down midway through the first quarter. He finished with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, meaning he was 5-of-12 from the floor after his spectacular start.
“He’s not going to make every shot,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
And Carlisle isn’t going to budge much from his regular rotation when it comes to his superstar, especially on the first night of a back-to-back with a big game against the Grizzlies coming next. Carlisle actually stayed with Nowitzki a little longer than usual in the first quarter.
“I think we stuck with him an extra minute or so,” Carlisle said. “It’s very rare. In the second half, it happens more frequently [that] we depart from that. We have defined roles.
“It’s something I wrestle with at times, but on the whole, because of it we were a championship team last year and there are dynamics to our rotation that require it.”
Nowitzki doesn’t necessarily disagree.
“It is what it is,” said Nowitzki, who did have one of his best rebounding nights of the season with 14 boards. “We all know what Rick does. He substitutes at certain times. That seemed to work last year, so we’re sticking with it.”
Carlisle’s routine of resting Nowitzki midway through the first quarter isn’t going to change. Nor should the Mavs habit of getting him touches on virtually every trip down the floor, especially when he has yet to miss that night.
A few more notes from the Mavs’ maddening loss:
1. Tough day for Delonte: Give Delonte West credit for being a tough guy. His performance after halftime, however, didn’t earn any props.
West battled on a bad wheel after twisting his left ankle when he landed on a ball at the morning shootaround and again when he landed awkwardly after a layup near the end of the first half. That obviously affected him in the second half, when he was 2-of-6 from the floor and was often assigned to defend Raymond Felton, who scored 16 of his season-high 30 points in the third quarter.
“I give him a lot of credit for being out there,” Carlisle said. “A lot of guys -- the majority of guys in this league -- wouldn’t have. He’s a great kid. He stands for all the right things on the basketball court, and he gave us what he had.”
When pressed, West admitted that his heavily-taped ankle stiffened up during the second half.
“But once you’re out there, you’re out there,” said West, who finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting and five assists. “There’s no excuses.”
According to West, there’s also no question he’ll play Saturday night against the Grizzlies.
2. Wright’s flights: If the Mavs managed to win this game, the buzz would have been all about Brandan Wright.
The slender center had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and most of those buckets came in spectacular fashion. He had four dunks, two of which were worthy of any highlight reel. Wright put Portland’s Luke Babbitt on a poster by soaring over him for a tomahawk jam, and the Human Exclamation Point threw down a right-to-left windmill off an errant lob pass from Jason Terry.
“I was just making a play,” Wright said with a shrug. “That’s not something you practice during the season, but during the summer, you do practice stuff like that.”
3. Little from Lam Lam: You didn’t get your hopes up when Lamar Odom had a couple of pretty good performances last week, did you?
He’s back to being the guy Mavs fans have grown to loathe. Odom missed Monday’s loss to the Clippers with a stomach bug, but he had a grand total of eight points and six rebounds in the last two games of this homestand.
The most notable thing Odom did during his five-point, five-rebound outing in Wednesday’s win was accidentally fire up his teammates with his poor effort that prompted Carlisle to summon him to the pine with 10 minutes to play.
Odom followed that up with a three-point, one-rebound, one-assist, two-turnover line in 11 minutes against the Trail Blazers. There were scattered boos after his sloppy turnover in the third quarter, and he was benched for good less than a minute later.