They improved a bit in their second preseason game Wednesday when they held on to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 95-90.
But the Dallas Mavericks’ offense won’t start running like a well-oiled machine until Jose Calderon starts running the show.
Calderon missed the first two preseason games and will also miss Monday’s home game against the Orlando Magic with a strained left hamstring he developed in practice on Oct. 2. Calderon won’t play until Wednesday, when the Mavericks play at Indiana.
Forward Dirk Nowitzki is eagerly waiting for that time to arrive.
“I think we need Calderon to kind of ultimately see where we’re going to go,” Nowitzki said between golf shots Thursday afternoon at the Mavs Masters at Hackberry Creek Country Club. “We need his experience, his play-making and his shot-making, especially. But everybody else I’m encouraged by.”
With veteran point guard Devin Harris (toe) and rookie point guard Shane Larkin (ankle) recovering from off-season surgery, rookie Gal Mekel started the first two games at point guard for the Mavericks with less than satisfactory results.
In those two games, Mekel had six points, eight rebounds, seven assists and nine turnovers. He also was just 3 of 14 from the field, including 0 of 3 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Because the Mavericks brought Calderon in to steady the ship, they need his hands on deck before anyone can make an honest opinion about how well the Mavericks will play.
“It’ll be nice [to have Calderon back now,] but it’s not going to happen until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week at the earliest,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “But he’s doing well. We’ve got to make sure he’s 100 percent and rested up.”
Calderon led the NBA in 3-point shooting last year at 46.1 percent, and was second in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4-to-1. That type of stretching of the defense and ball protection is what the Mavericks lacked last season when they finished 41-41 and missed the playoffs.
“It’s hard to envision us right now because we obviously got him for execution purposes, especially in tight games,” Nowitzki said of Calderon. “I think with his ability to stretch the floor, that should even open it up more for Monta [Ellis] to make plays.
“Calderon shot 46 percent from 3 last year, so that should help us out a lot.”
Center Brandan Wright became the fourth member of the Mavericks to be sidelined by an injury.
The Mavs said Thursday that Wright will be out indefinitely with a small, non-displaced fracture to his left shoulder. The injury, according to the Mavs, doesn’t require surgery at this time, but Wright will be re-evaluated weekly.
Wright suffered the injury during Tuesday’s practice and didn’t play in Wednesday’s game in Memphis. Asked after the game if he was OK, Wright said he was fine and only sat out for “precautionary reasons.”
Four days, no games
The Mavericks will go four days without having any games.
They spent Thursday playing golf with some of the organization’s sponsors at the Mavs Masters at Hackberry Creek Country Club. The Mavericks will practice Friday, Saturday and Sunday before hosting Orlando on Monday.
“It’s a chance for us to get a one-day break, and then we have a lot of games coming in a short period of time,” Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll make it work. Whatever the schedule is you’ve got to work with it. But I like it.”