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Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is usually close to the vest in terms of his lineup but said that Dirk Nowitzki, who sat out Wednesday's loss to the Toronto Raptors, will return to action Friday against the Brooklyn Nets.
|Dirk Nowitzki will return Friday against the Nets after resting during the Mavericks' previous game.|
At 8-1, the Nets have the best record in the league since Jan. 1.
"It'll be good," Carlisle said of Nowitzki's return. "It'll help us a lot. You can't replace a top-12 all-time player."
Nowitzki was clearly dragging during the tail stretch Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He finished the game with 17 points on 8-of-20 shooting, though Dallas won 102-97.
"I just felt like I didn't have pep in my step," Nowitzki said after the team's shootaround Friday. "There have been a lot of games in the last two weeks or so. There's been traveling from West to East. We felt like it was a good decision to take a day off."
Nowitzki confirmed he didn't have things going as he would have liked in terms of energy.
"I didn't look good [at the end against Cleveland]," he said. "I didn't feel like I had much pop, so we decided to take a day off."
On Friday, Nowitzki will see his first game action in five days. He said he hasn't touched a ball much and has been mainly doing cardio and light lifting.
He acknowledged that it was tough to watch the team suffer a loss on the road but that he agreed with the decision to have him sit out.
"It was a smart thing to do," Nowitzki said. "We made a decision as a team. It wasn't me going up to the coaches or whatever. The coaches have been watching me closely and they brought the idea up."
Will the decision pay off with a strong performance against the Nets?
"I guess we'll see tonight," Nowitzki said.
The game will mark the first time that Nets head coach Jason Kidd will go up against the team he led as their point guard to an NBA championship in 2011.
His departure from the Mavericks back in the summer of 2012 wasn't on the best of terms. Kidd had verbally committed to re-sign with Dallas, agreeing to a three-year, $9 million deal, only to change his mind and accept the same offer from the Knicks. After one season, Kidd retired as a player, then went to Brooklyn as coach.
There was a mixed response between the remaining members of the 2011 championship squad in regards to the level of awkwardness that may come from seeing their former point guard now in a new look.
"Definitely," Nowitzki said. "It's been weird seeing him in a suit."
Once he was done deadpanning, Nowitzki went on to give praise to his former teammate.
"I've played 16 years with a lot of guys, he said. "If there's one guy that could (coach), it is J-Kidd. He was the coach on the floor."
Shawn Marion had two different stints with Kidd as a player, once from 1999 through 2001 as members of the Phoenix Suns and from 2009 through 2012 as members of the Mavericks. He knew that Kidd was made to be a head coach.
"He's a floor general," Marion said. "He's a true point guard. He knew when to slow it down and run a play. He had a sense of the game. He recognizes everything on the floor. That's what he was supposed to do as a point guard.
"I'm very happy to see him (coach). He's going to do well with it."