DALLAS – For a guy who hasn’t played in a live NBA game since the Dallas Mavericks battled the San Antonio Spurs last May in Game 7 of a first-round playoff series, forward Dirk Nowitzki looked almost picture perfect Sunday night against the Indiana Pacers.
Nowitzki played only 19 minutes – all in the first half – and finished with 16 points, five rebounds and two assists. The 17-year veteran was 7-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-3 from the 3-point line.
"I felt good out there,’’ Nowitzki said. "I just look forward to keep going and keep putting the work in and hopefully have another solid season.
"The plan was to kind of blow my minutes out in the first half tonight. I almost got up to 20, which is pretty good.’’
Nowitzki’s efforts helped the Mavs defeat the Pacers, 106-98. It was his first preseason game of the exhibition season after he suffered a right hip contusion during the Mavs’ Blue-White Fan Jam scrimmage on Oct. 4.
"I thought it went very well,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "He told (trainer) Casey Smith that he felt good put there, so those were good signs.
"It’s really just the beginning for him in terms of live action as we all know. He played some live stuff in practice the first week, but since the Fan Jam he hasn’t really been in any live play.’’
For the Mavs, it was like gold seeing their 12-time All-Star on the floor. Especially since they were able to get their first real live glimpse of Nowitzki and newcomer Chandler Parsons on the floor at the same time – not counting the Blue-White scrimmage.
"He’s active and finishes above the rim and brings a lot of stuff that we need him to bring,’’ Nowitzki said of Parsons. "So it’s been fun.’’
Nowitzki said originally he would have played in the first two preseason games and sat out Sunday’s outing against the Pacers. But the rip contusion altered those plans.
"I probably could have played the last game (on Friday against Oklahoma City), but since it’s preseason we took it slow with the hip,’’ Nowitzki said. "I felt fine.
"I felt fine moving, so I’ve just got to keep on working.’’
The Mavs won’t play until Friday in Cleveland and then Saturday in Indiana. They also will host Memphis on Nov. 20 before finishing up preseason play with a back-to-back Oct. 23 and 24 on the road against New Orleans (the game will be in Shreveport) and Orlando, respectively.
By his account, Nowitzki figures to play in only three of the remaining five preseason games.
"I’ll play a little more in the next one,’’ he said. "I don’t think I’m going to play in back-to-backs in the preseason, so that’s already two more games there that are out – two road games.
"I’m looking forward to getting some more week and be sharp down in San Antonio (on Oct. 28) for game one.’’