That cushion afforded most players when they enter the NBA hasn’t applied to Shane Larkin.
That’s because the rookie point guard from Miami fractured his right ankle on the day the Mavs were slated to leave for Las Vegas to play in the summer league.
In addition to missing summer league play, after surgery Larkin also missed the Mavs’ training camp, the eight preseason games and the first 10 games of the regular season.
“That put me a little bit behind, but I’m catching on, making my reads here and there,” Larkin said. “The best thing about summer league and the preseason is that’s when you get to go out there and you just get to play and make your mistakes and get all of your mistakes out of the way and just learn, and learn by playing.”
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Larkin is averaging 3.0 points and 1.8 assists in 12.6 minutes per game while splitting backup playing time behind Jose Calderon and rookie Gal Mekel.
Coach Rick Carlisle likes the effort and speed that Larkin has given, but admits that catching up has been difficult.
“How do you make up for four months of NBA activity and eight exhibition games and five or six summer league games?” Carlisle asked. “But all things considered he’s made great progress, he’s working hard.”
What Larkin would like to do on a regular basis is get in the lane and create havoc.
He was able to do some of that Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers when he scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter.
“A big part of my game is getting into the lane and creating for others,” Larkin said. “It’s just that I haven’t had the opportunity to make the mistakes to get them out of the way.
“Coach has given me the opportunity by playing me and telling me to get into the lane. But it’s just I know that I don’t want to go in there and mess up and maybe be pulled, and maybe not.”
Harris back soon
Guard Devin Harris has targeted Jan. 14 as the day he hopes to go through a full practice for the first time this season.
Harris underwent toe surgery on his left foot on Aug. 6. The 10-year veteran has been watching intently and knows where he can help the Mavs.
“I’m just hoping I can speed the game up in some way, shape or form,” Harris said. “We’re running kind of slow right now.”
Harris said he’s feeling no pain in his toe, but doesn’t want to rush back to the court too soon and suffer a setback.
“He’s increased his activity in the last week and done some light court work,” Carlisle said. “He’ll continue to do that for another week and then we’ll see where we are.
“It appears to be on the right path again. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t overdo it too much too soon.”
Nowitzki vs. Bird
When asked Friday to rank Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki among the all-time great forwards, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers hesitated.
“When I was in Boston you could never rank Dirk because if you said anything with Dirk and Larry [Bird], it’s fighting words,” said Rivers, who coached the Celtics the past nine seasons. “So I just shut up and didn’t say anything.
“But he’s got to be right at the top at his position.”
Reminded that he’s not coaching the Celtics any more and that it was OK to rank Nowitzki, Rivers smiled and said: “I’m still going with Larry because I’m from Boston. Having said that, Dirk’s in the argument, there’s no doubt.”