Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Mavericks [Print without images]

Monday, January 17, 2011
Good bet Dirk bounces back in Detroit

By Jeff Caplan

The seven points Dirk Nowitzki scored in his return from injury Saturday night ended a string of 89 consecutive games (including playoffs) in which he scored in double figures.

He played just 15 minutes before being ejected for arguing early in the third quarter of the 89-70 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The last time Nowitzki didn't reach double figures he didn't get to finish that game either. On Dec. 18, 2009 against the Houston Rockets at the American Airlines Center, Nowitzki drove to the basket when his elbow collided with the mouth of Rockets forward Carl Landry.

Landry lost three teeth, which were found embedded in Nowitzki's elbow. Neither player returned to the game. Nowitzki finished with five points in 10 minutes.

Remarkably, Nowitzki missed just one game after having Landry's teeth extracted from his elbow. He returned four nights later and delivered 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting against Portland to start this just-concluded consecutive games streak.

It's a good bet to think Nowitzki will get back to double digits this afternoon against the Detroit Pistons (2:30 p.m. tip).

Nowitzki hasn't gone consecutive games played scoring in single figures since 2003 when he left a Nov. 26 game at Phoenix with a sprained ankle. He played seven minutes and was scoreless. He returned to action on Dec. 10 against the Los Angeles Clippers and scored nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in 27 minutes.

He'd settle for single digits three more times that season. Then, from March 14, 2004 to Nov. 29, 2006, Nowitzki put together a string of 231 consecutive double-digit scoring games (including playoffs).

And since then, the number of single-digit scoring games Nowitzki's had is ... seven.