Dallas Mavericks: FC Barcelona Regal

Coop in Europe: Dirk's knee lingers over loss

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
8:06
PM CT
ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Chuck Cooperstein, aka "The Voice of the Mavericks", is with the Dallas Mavericks on their first European excursion and will blog on the team's events daily for ESPNDallas.com.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesDirk Nowitkzi's absence from the lineup loomed large in Barcelona, where his right knee was showing signs of stress.
And so ends a horrible week for sports in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Cowboys are seemingly teetering on the edge. The Rangers flamed out spectacularly. The Stars can't get off the ground because of the NHL lockout. And now, the Mavericks have to worry about the condition of their superstar.

The Mavs' 99-85 loss Tuesday to FC Barcelona Regal, one in which they were outplayed by a significant margin for much of the night, was the least of the worries. For the second time in 10 months, concerns surrounding Dirk Nowitzki's right knee hung over the the Mavs as well as the 16,236 in the Palau Sant Jordi, who didn't know until minutes before the tip that the player they had all come to see wouldn't be in the lineup.

Nowitzki's knee started showing signs of stress last week.

"Unfortunately, the last two days it didn't respond great," Nowitzki said. “There was some swelling again, so I think right now in the preseason it's not the time to play on a swollen knee. Hopefully it's just a reaction to running and jumping and we'll see how it responds.”

Nowitzki missed four games last January to get himself into better game shape, and part of that in-season minicamp involved strengthening his right knee. As he got into shape he started to look like himself, although his 21.6 scoring average was the lowest since his second season in the NBA.

He scored 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting in Saturday's opener of the European swing against Alba Berlin.

As for Tuesday's game, Elton Brand started in Nowitzki's place. Brand and Chris Kaman were able to hold off Barcelona's powerful inside game early on, but that wouldn't last. The Mavs wound up getting run over by 12 points and 10 rebounds from Ante Tomic. Princeton-ex C.J. Wallace contributed with eight points and 13 rebounds, and Nathan Jawai -- who was in camp with the Mavs in 2009 -- had 13 points and six rebounds.

Barcelona outrebounded the Mavericks 53-46, which included 14 offensive rebounds.

Juan Carlos Navarro and Pete Mickael led all scorers with 19 points apiece. Navarro, who played in Memphis in 2008, hit four of eight attemps from 3-point range. Kaman led the Mavs with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Mavericks will fly home Wednesday, stopping in Bangor, Maine, to go through customs before arriving in Dallas around 7:45 p.m. Their next game is Monday night at the American Airlines Center against Houston, although the team will go through an open scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at as part of Mavstoberfest.

Coop in Europe: Mavs-FC Barcelona Regal preview

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
8:15
AM CT
ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Chuck Cooperstein, aka "The Voice of the Mavericks", is with the Dallas Mavericks on their first European excursion and will blog on the team's events daily for ESPNDallas.com.

BARCELONA -- The FC Barcelona Regal team that the Mavericks face today (2 p.m. CT) at the Palau Sant Jordi is the most accomplished team in the most accomplished league in Europe. Barcelona has won the ACB Spanish League title 17 times, including last season when they defeated Real Madrid 3-2 in a best-of-5 final. They also reached the semis of the Euroleague Championship before losing to Olympiacos. They have won two Euroleague title and have been runner-up five times.

So far this season, they have split six games played over three different leagues. That’s one thing about European ball that is so different from what we know in the NBA. It’s not enough to simply win your nation’s league, but teams play in many other competitions simultaneously.

As opposed to the Alba Berlin game where there was really only one player (North Carolina-ex Deon Thompson) who vaguely resembled an NBA player, FC Barcelona Regal is loaded with NBA-caliber players.

The best known of these players is guard Juan Carlos Navarro, who scored 21 points for Spain in the Olympic gold-medal game vs. the USA. Navarro played the 2007-08 season in Memphis and made second-team All-Rookie, averaging 10.9 points. But the chance to sign a long-term deal with FC Barcelona brought him back. Except for the season with the Grizzlies, he has been first-team all-Euroleague every year since 2006. He has been slowed by a foot injury since the Olympics and is just working back into shape. He is a dazzling outside shooter and has one of the best floaters in the game.

FC Barcelona Regal will have enough size to match up against Mavericks. Ante Tomic is a legitimate 7-2 and 260 pounds. The 44th pick in the 2009 NBA draft by Utah is joined by former Michigan State center Erazem Lorbek. When most of us last saw Lorbek, he was a huge part of the Spartans' run in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, where they lost in the Elite Eight to TJ Ford and Texas. Drafted by Indiana in '05 (when Rick Carlisle was coaching the Pacers), his rights are now owned by San Antonio, which acquired them in the George Hill trade in June 2011.

Tomic and Lorbek are joined up front by another big body in Australian Nathan Jawai, whom Mavericks fans might remember was with the team in camp in 2009 before being traded to Minnesota. Those 3 bigs -- Tomic, Lorbek and Jawai -- teamed for 43 points and 18 rebounds in their last game. Pete Mickael, a hard nosed small forward at Cincinnati for Bob Huggins, is the other forward. Mickael was a one-time Mavericks draft pick whose rights were traded to the New York Knicks, but he never played in the NBA.

In the backcourt, in addition to Navarro, Australian Joe Ingles is a guy to watch. The 6-6 shooting guard has a well-rounded game, averaging 15 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists for Australia in their run to the Olympic quarterfinals. Mavericks chief international scout Tony Ronzone says the NBA is watching Ingles, who is in the last year of his contract, and could be signed as an unrestricted free agent next year.

At point guard, Marcelinho Huertas from Brazil was a star in Brazil’s run to the Olympic semifinals, And then there is Sarunas Jasekivicius, the old war horse at age 36, who played college ball at Maryland and was brought over to the NBA to play for Carlisle with the Pacers in 2006. It didn’t work out for him in the NBA, but he is among Europe’s most decorated players, a four time Euroleague champion with three different teams.

Guys with NBA experience. Guys who were drafted by the NBA, but have chosen to stay over. And players without NBA experience, but whose pedigree suggests they are NBA players -- and could be in the future. Indeed, the Mavericks will learn a lot more about what they are after this game.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 4.6 1.7 34.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.9
AssistsR. Rondo 8.4
StealsR. Rondo 1.8
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4