Somehow the Dallas Mavericks will have to survive without Dirk Nowitzki for the next two games.
Coach Rick Carlisle said the 13-time All-Star forward will miss Wednesday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs and will not travel to Charlotte for Thursday’s road game against the Hornets. Tip-off for the game against the Spurs is at 7:30 p.m. at American Airlines Center.
Apparently, the pain in Nowitzki’s strained right Achilles has not subsided enough to the point where the Mavericks feel comfortable putting him in a game.
“He’s out for at least two games,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s making gradual progress, but not enough to play him right now, so that’s where we are.”
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Because of his injury, Nowitzki has sat out nine of the past 11 games. In all, the 38-year-old has played in just five of the Mavericks’ 16 games.
I know they’ve struggled and aren’t happy about it as anybody, but I don’t think they’ve regressed. I think we’re just asking them to do too much and it just doesn’t work that way.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on Justin Anderson and Dwight Powell
The loss of Nowitzki has put more pressure on other players to produce. And it’s even tougher for third-year forward Dwight Powell and second-year forward Justin Anderson, who have struggled for most of this season.
“When you’re a second-year guy and it feels like you have to do a lot more, that’s not a good spot to be in,” owner Mark Cuban said. “And so as we get back healthy guys we’ll know their roles more.
“And for Justin and DP in particular, when their roles become more limited it becomes a lot simpler and easier for them. I know they’ve struggled and aren’t happy about it as anybody, but I don’t think they’ve regressed. I think we’re just asking them to do too much and it just doesn’t work that way.”
Dwight’s making strides because he’s not fouling as much as he did last year and the first year we got him.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on Dwight Powell
Anderson did bounce back with 14 points and eight rebounds Sunday against New Orleans in a game Carlisle described as his best since he entered the NBA last season.
“Justin had a breakthrough game from the standpoint of really understanding — kind of a recommitment for the basis for his success, which is running hard, simple reads, hard defense, rebounding,” Carlisle said. “And then just being process-oriented stepping into his shots.”
Powell, meanwhile, responded with five steals, three rebounds and a blocked shot against the Pelicans while playing stingy defense against Anthony Davis.
“Dwight’s making strides because he’s not fouling as much as he did last year and the first year we got him,” Carlisle said. “The whistle blows a lot when [Davis is] driving and Dwight did a really good job, particularly in the second half of keeping a legal body on him without getting the fouls and marching him for additional free throws.”
Mulling the slippage in their game, Anderson recently talked it over with Powell.
“I see him up there sitting by himself, so I’ll go up there and I sit with him for the plane ride and we just talk about one day we’re going to look back at all of this and the struggles we’ve been going through and laugh,” Anderson said. “So we’ve got to learn from it right now, and we talk about what we need to do to help our team.
“It involves sprints and playing hard every possession and playing until exhaustion, and I think we both did a great job of doing that [against New Orleans]. We both played angry.”