- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- The good news: Dirk Nowitzki is shooting 74.2 percent from the floor in the last three games.
The bad news: Nowitzki has attempted only 31 shots in that span, including only 10 in each of the Mavericks’ two losses.
Yes, the Mavs want to be a balanced offensive team. But there’s no doubt that when Dirk gets hot, he needs to be fed a bunch more.
“It’s a team responsibility. It’s a coaching responsibility,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Guys on the floor have got to make sure he’s touching it more. If I’ve got to call more plays to get the ball in his hands, I will.”
Carlisle can do his part by calling more plays designed for Nowitzki. Those plays still have to be executed, though.
And that’s why this is a point guard issue, as much as anything.
Nowitzki admits he’s been spoiled during his career, having played long stretches with Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, two of five men in NBA history with more than 10,000 assists. Now Mike James, a 37-year-old journeyman combo guard, is the Mavs’ primary point.
James has attempted more shots than Nowitzki in each of the Mavs’ last two losses despite the fact that the future Hall of Famer was 80 percent from the floor in both games. James understands that’s far from ideal shot distribution.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we find him as many open looks as we possibly can,” James said. “Our offense, our team flows through Dirk. We understand that. I just have to make more of a conscious effort to just make sure he’s getting his attempts.”
With defenses focusing on Nowitzki, there can be a fine line between feeding him and forcing the ball to him. And the Mavs don’t want James, who is shooting 48.9 percent from 3-point range in the last 10 games, to pass up open looks to get Nowitzki the ball in tight quarters.
But there’s no question Nowitzki needs more touches, especially when he’s in a groove.
“It’s not about sacrificing,” James said. “It’s just about making sure that he doesn’t go down two, three possessions without touching the ball. We just have to make a conscious effort that whatever play we run, I’m making sure I’m really making an effort to look for him and find him.”