Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks will monitor Dirk Nowitzki closely in Monday’s preseason game

Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford (15) dribbles against Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki of Germany during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Friday.
Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford (15) dribbles against Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki of Germany during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Friday. AP

There was a sudden stoppage in play during the first half of Friday’s preseason game between the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks.

The stoppage was because Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki was bleeding. Two days later, Nowitzki acknowledged that a few of his teammates playfully questioned how the bleeding got started.

“Guys said actually I scratched myself to get a little break from the refs when I was bleeding,” Nowitzki said after Sunday’s practice at American Airlines Center. “They said I scratched myself to stop play.”

And why would Nowitzki want to stop play? Well, in his first action of the preseason last Friday, he played 19 minutes — all in the first half — and scored six points in the 91-84 loss to the Hawks.

In summing up how his body felt afterward, Nowitzki said: “There were some stretches there after five or six minutes where I was a little tired.

“There were some spots where I was a little tired, but I usually don’t play 19 minutes in one half. That was when I was 22 — not now anymore.”

Nowitzki will play in Monday night’s game at Cleveland, and in one of the final two preseason games after that against Phoenix or Chicago. His progress is being closely watched after he collected seven rebounds and was 2-of-6 from the field against the Hawks.

“Dirk, I thought, moved extremely well,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He didn’t get a ton of shots, but the shots that he got, I thought he stepped into aggressively.’’

Training camp for the Mavs is nearing the three-week mark, and the wear and tear is showing. Meanwhile, the Mavs open the regular season with road games on consecutive nights against the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 28 and 29, respectively.

“It’s been a long camp,’’ Nowitzki said. “After three weeks of practicing every day almost, it’s been a little bit of the dog days where it seems like it’s never going to end.

“So we’ve just got to get through this week and try to get better and get a little more plays in, get better on the defensive end. And then we start off on a tough back-to-back on the road. It’s as tough as it gets this early in the season.’’

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