Dirk Nowitzki to miss 5th straight game

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki missed his fifth consecutive game as he recovers from a sprained right knee, coach Rick Carlisle said Tuesday.

The Mavs began a three-game homestand Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. They won 84-81.

"When Dirk's ready to play, we'll let everybody know when he's ready to play," Carlisle said. "In the meantime, he's making gradual progress, but that's going to be it. We're not going to have a daily Dirk update, Dirk watch."

The Mavericks (26-8) are 2-3 without Nowitzki, who is averaging 24.1 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 54.5 percent from the floor. His earliest return would come Thursday against Oklahoma City.

The Mavericks also were without the services of Caron Butler, who is out for the year after having knee surgery.

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.