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Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Two stars shooting in opposite directions

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki has been on an unbelievable shooting spree. He shot 70 percent from the floor in three games last week to earn the Western Conference Player of the Week award for a second time this season.

During the Dallas Mavericks' 12-game win streak that ended Monday night to the Milwaukee Bucks, Nowitzki shot an incredible 58.9 percent from the floor for a 25.3-point average. He posted games of 12-of-14 shooting, 10-of-16, 12-of-18, 11-of-15, 8-of-10 and 10-of-12.

So remarkable his run has been, boosting his season shooting percentage to a ridiculous 56.4 percent, that Mavs coach Rick Carlisle put it up there with shooting streaks by only a handful of the game's great marksmen.

"You're not going to go out and shoot 10-of-12 every night, but a guy with his kind of skill level and his dedication to the game, guys like him are capable of it,"  Carlisle said. "And there only a few guys in history that are capable of this -- Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan. Dirk's done it a few times this year. There's a few others, but there aren't many."

At the other end of the spectrum right now is point guard Jason Kidd, whose 3-point shooting has become an expected and valuable element in the Mavs' game plan. He was way off the mark during the streak -- although he still had a knack for hitting the clutch bucket -- but the Mavs compensated with big shooting games at different times from Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry.

During the win streak, Kidd went 34-of-102 from the floor (33.3 percent) and 18-of-61 from 3-point land (29.5 percent). Adding Monday night's 1-of-4 outing from downtown (although he was 3-of-3 from inside the arc), Kidd's season 3-point percentage is down to 33.9 percent, well below the 40-percent averages he's posted over the past two seasons.

Carlisle said he's not concerned by Kidd's prolonged cold snap.

"The guy's in his 17th year. He knows the deal. You just keep playing the game. You keep working and he's doing all that," Carlisle said. "Again, if there's anybody in this league I'd like to see line up a 3 in a big-shot situation, he'd be the guy."