Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki returned Friday to play his first game since Nov. 25 when the Dallas Mavericks faced the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center.
Nowitzki scored 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting in 15 minutes of playing time before leaving for the night with 2:45 left in the first half.
The Mavericks trailed 51-50 at halftime. Mavs guard Devin Harris was poked in the eye in the first half and was not expected to return for the second half.
The game late Friday night CST in Los Angeles was on Fox Sports Southwest.
“Dirk is doing well, and Dirk is going to play on a limited basis tonight,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the Mavs’ Friday morning shootaround, via Mavs.com.
This is a beginning, and it’s going to be long road back to full minutes, full conditioning and full rhythm.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, on Dirk Nowitzki’s return
Carlisle cautioned about expecting too much. Nowitzki will be on a minutes’ restriction.
“Look, this is a beginning, and it’s going to be long road back to full minutes, full conditioning and full rhythm,” he said, via Mavs.com. “But now is the time to start.”
Nowitzki has missed 24 games this season, including the last 14 with a right Achilles strain. The Mavs (8-21) are 0-5 in games the 13-time All-Star has started this season.
The 7-foot star’s last game had been a 38-point loss against the Cavaliers at Cleveland the day after Thanksgiving.
It was not all good news for the Mavs. Veteran guard J.J. Barea flew back home to have his left leg muscle strain further examined, Mavs.com reported. Barea came out of Wednesday’s 96-95 victory at Portland in the first half.
Nowitzki, 38, averaged 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in his first five games. He was shooting 35.8 percent from the field and 27.3 percent on 3-pointers.