Dirk Nowitzki did not play when the Dallas Mavericks played Toronto on Jan. 22.
Since then, he’s been on a tear.
Over the past four games Nowitzki has averaged 29.5 points and 9.5 rebounds and is shooting 54.9 percent from the field. He’s also made 35 of 36 free throws.
“He’s got a good groove going obviously,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The guys are looking for him.
“Beyond that we’re in a reasonable spacing of games situation, which I think helps everybody.”
Nowitzki scored 38 in Wednesday’s loss to Houston and 34 in Friday’s win over Sacramento.
That marked the first time he’s put together consecutive 30-plus scoring games since he scored 40 at Utah on April 16, 2012, and followed that two days later with 35 points at home against Houston.
Asked if the back-to-back 30-point scoring outputs have given him any confidence, Nowitzki said: “I’m 35. I don’t need a confidence boost. I’ve been in this league too long.”
Nowitzki has gone 11-of-11 from the free-throw line in each of the past two games.
“He’s driving it more, but when you’re in a shot-making groove like him, guys are going to be flying at you and there’s going to be contact on plays,” Carlisle said.
“A lot of things come together when you’re aggressive and you’re shooting the ball well.”
In the past three games, Nowitzki is averaging 33.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game and is shooting 60.7 percent from the field.
“I’ve been in a nice groove,” Nowitzki said. “Before the last three [games] I didn’t really have a good groove, especially on that trip going East, and even before that I was a little slow.
“The jumper didn’t fall, it was a little flat, and it was a lot of games since after Christmas. I got a little rest and obviously here this week we have two days off twice [between games] and that helps a lot.’’
The Mavs (27-21) host Cleveland at 7:30 p.m. Monday and will do so knowing their franchise player seems to have found the fountain of youth.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity to play with him,” center Brandan Wright said of Nowitzki. “He’s our horse, he’s a guy we rely on, and he’s bringing it every night.”
Ellis erases turnovers
The turnovers had been coming in bunches lately for guard Monta Ellis.
But the nine-year veteran didn’t have any turnovers Friday night against Sacramento.
Carlisle said it was Ellis’ best game of the season.
It’s the first time since a game Dec. 5, 2012, at San Antonio when he played for Milwaukee that Ellis didn’t have a turnover in a game.
“I think I have to do more, be more under control and pay attention to how the defense plays me and make the right plays,” Ellis said. “I’ll go back and look at this game and hopefully can keep it up.”
Ellis had 22 turnovers in the four games prior to Friday’s game against the Kings.
But he was more patient against Sacramento and let plays develop instead of rushing into different scenarios.
“He actually played a great floor game,” Nowitzki said. “I don’t think he forced anything.
“They collapsed a lot on his pick-and-rolls, and he didn’t really get to the lane as much. But I thought in the fourth quarter he took what they gave us.’’
Good times roll
Since sitting out a Jan. 22 game at Toronto, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has had his best four-game stretch of the season. In those four games he’s averaged 29.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The stats for those games: