Dirk Nowitzki was in the midst of his second-best shooting performance of the entire season Saturday night at the Toyota Center.
The Dallas Mavericks’ 17-year veteran was knocking down one jumper after another while causing the Houston Rockets all sorts of problems.
Some two months shy from turning 37, Nowitzki was turning back the clock to his glory days, when he would hoist the Mavs on his shoulders and drag the team to the winner’s circle.
There was one big problem regarding Nowitzki’s sterling performance from the Mavs’ standpoint. He only took 14 shots — and made 10 of those.
Somehow, some way, if the Mavs have designs on winning a best-of-seven, first-round playoff series against the Rockets, it’s imperative that they find a way to get Nowitzki more attempts at the basket. Particularly when his hand is as red-hot as it was in Game 1.
“We’ve been doing a good job spreading it around,” Nowitzki said. “Maybe I should have run to the blocks a couple more times, especially if they switch everything [on screens].
“They had [James] Harden on me a couple of times and obviously I’ve got to take advantage of those matchups. But I just feel like I don’t really want to force anything.’’
The best shooting percentage Nowitzki has enjoyed in a game this season was on Nov. 13 when he went 7 of 8 (87.5 percent) from the floor in 20 short minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers. His second-best shooting night was Saturday against the Rockets when he converted 71.4 percent of his shots.
Meanwhile, three other Mavericks attempted more shots in Game 1 than Nowitzki, but none of them made at least half of their attempts. Rajon Rondo was 7 of 16, Monta Ellis was 5 of 16, and Chandler Parsons was only 5 of 15 shots. That’s 30 missed shots combined.
Coach Rick Carlisle plans to look at how to get Nowitzki more shots when this series resumes at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Toyota Center.
“I thought the guys did a good job of looking for him,” Carlisle said. “With 14 shots in 34 minutes, we probably could have gotten him a few more.
“But, then again I thought there were some other good looks in the game.”
Carlisle has preached balance as being the backbone of his team. But when one player is hot and three others are cold, does that mean keep pounding it to the cold players until they get hot and disregard the hot player?
“We’re not going to win this series just pounding it in to Dirk every time,” Carlisle said. “That’s not how we’re built.”
There have only been eight games this season in which Nowitzki has made at least 10 field goals. He made 11 four times, and Saturday was one of the four games where he finished with 10.
Still, the Mavs have this system in place where the offensive burden is not placed on one player. Regardless of the situation.
“I feel like we’re spreading the ball around, we’re shooting, we’re driving, and that’s when we’re at our best, and not when one guy goes one-on-one 30 times,” Nowitzki said. “That’s not really how we play, that’s not really how we’re effective or efficient this season.
“I do have to pick my spots. We’ll see how it works in Game 2.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760
No simple solution
Including in Game 1 against the Rockets, Dirk Nowitzki has only eight games this season in which he’s made at least 10 field goals. The Mavericks might want to get him the ball more, but they’re only 4-4 when he makes 10 or more shots this season: