“I guess he’s an All-Star,” coach Rick Carlisle said, poking a little fun at a pregame line of questioning.
Yeah, so much for a slump.
Not that Nowitzki denies that he was in a little rut. He took a game off in Toronto because the hectic schedule took too much out of his 35-year-old legs. That came on the heels of a couple of off nights, as Nowitzki averaged only 17.5 points on 37.8 shooting in the Mavs’ previous two games.
Nowitzki returned for the road trip finale in Brooklyn, sporting a rubber sleeve on his stiff left knee and stunk it up again by his standards, scoring 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
So it was certainly nice for the Mavs to see their face of the franchise start strong and stay hot in the opener of a four-game homestand.
It was an impressive all-around performance for Nowitzki, who grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists, but his offensive efficiency was especially outstanding. Nowitzki was 10-of-16 from the floor, 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 5-of-5 from the line.
“I had some good shots,” Nowitzki said. “I watched a little bit of film, what happened in Cleveland and Brooklyn, I still thought I had some shots there. Just never really had a good rhythm on this trip. I obviously sat out Toronto. Got a little shots in this morning, got some rest yesterday and just stepped in my shots when they were there.
“Guys kept looking for me. Got open on some pick-and-rolls and usually what happens is if you make a couple of shots, your confidence goes up and you make a couple more.”
Happy birthday, Vince Carter: The Mavs’ greybeard celebrated his 37th birthday in style, as sixth man Vince Carter scored 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting and recorded five rebounds and three assists in the win over the Pistons.
Not bad for a guy who woke up in the morning feeling a lot older than usual. Carter still felt creaky during pregame warmups, but that wore off pretty quickly once he worked up a sweat.
“I felt sluggish at first,” Carter said. “I felt like I was dragging. I don’t know if it’s the 37-year-old blues or something. I don’t know, but after that, once I got going and got warm, I was fine.”