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Sunday, February 10, 2013
3-pointer: Dirk Nowitzki's struggles

By Calvin Watkins

DALLAS -- Saturday night, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki missed his first six shots against the Golden State Warriors.

Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki has struggled since his return from injury and he can't quite pinpoint the reason why.
When his night was done, Nowitzki had scored 15 points, but went 3-of-12 from the field. Nowitzki said he's physically fine but since returning from a right adductor strain, he has shot just 33 percent from the field and his stat line doesn't have the look of a superstar player.

Nowitzki has made 13 of his last 42 field-goal attempts and while he's getting open looks they're not falling.

Is it a slump?

Is Nowitzki still hurting?

In the three games before injuring himself, Nowitzki made 24-of-49 field-goal attempts and scored 26, 18 and 15 points.

"Feel OK," Nowitzki said. "It felt like I'm moving a lot better than I was a month ago. That’s a positive."

Nowitzki doesn't have to carry the Mavericks offense at this stage of the season. Saturday night, as he struggled, Shawn Marion played one of his best games, scoring a season-high 26 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Guards O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison combined for 37 points and 17 assists.

Elton Brand added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

"All of them played well," Nowitzki said. "[Marion] had a phenomenal game on both ends of the floor as he always does on the boards. Collison [is] shooting the ball well, Mayo had some big threes if I remember, EB played some good defense on Carl Landry, their low-post player so I think everybody played well."

Nowitzki missed the start of the season when he underwent knee surgery and it was expected he would need some time before finding a good rhythm. It seemed he found it but his recovery from this latest injury might have caused him some problems.

"I'm moving nice and decent, I just don't have a good touch," he said. "Last game I missed a bunch of shots that I usually make but [I] got to keep on working."

A few notes for the rest of the weekend.

1. Sometimes you forget about the veteran Brand and his presence on the defensive end. Brand scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench.

"Elton was great defensively in the first half and was a real presence around the basket and was doing great thing offensively," coach Rick Carlisle said. "This was a night where we needed a physical presence out there with a guy like Landry and [Andris] Biedrins and he was a guy that stepped up for us."

Brand posted his sixth double-double of the season and 402nd of his career. The Mavericks are 7-3 when he grabs 10 or more rebounds in a game.

2. The Mavericks are 2-0 on this season-long five-game homestand. Finishing a perfect 5-0 would do wonders for the Mavericks' record, currently at 22-28. At home, the Mavs are 14-9, but the road record (8-19) is what worries Nowitzki.

"I thought even the homestand we had two weeks ago, we had a little momentum going," he said. "We've been playing well at home, we've caught some teams on back-to-backs and we took care of homecourt and yeah, we've been playing better at home. As long as we keep losing on the road, obviously a 1-3 trip wasn't what we wanted last week, so you got to find a way to win home games and get a little momentum here going into the [All-Star] break."

3. Mayo and Collison had a nice little one-two punch going in the victory over the Warriors. As the season has progressed, the guards have fed off each other, especially if Nowitzki or Marion struggles from the field.

"We feel like we have a rhythm and we have an understanding of what's needed at each position," Mayo said. "We're just trying [like] every guy to do their particular job and go out as hard as we can. If it's not good enough, it's not good enough. But a lot of times if we give our best effort at each spot we have a good chance at winning."

ETC: Vince Carter sprained his left ankle in the second half but returned. He finished with seven points in 22 minutes. ... The Mavericks are off on Sunday. ... Saturday's victory was the first this season over the Warriors in three tries.