CHICAGO – Although they didn’t exactly play one of the NBA’s heavyweights, at least the Dallas Mavericks know they can win a game when they need to rest forward Dirk Nowitzki.
That’s what happened Saturday night in Philadelphia when Nowitzki got the night off so he could rest, and the rest of the Mavs took care of business and defeated the 76ers, 110-103.
Nowitzki’s teammates agree that giving him ample time to re-charge his body is an ideal strategy which should become a regular part of the Mavs’ game plan this season.
"We need to be smart about Dirk this year because we have to prepare for the long haul,’’ center Tyson Chandler said. "Games like this, the rest of his teammates, the rest of us need to step up so that he doesn’t have to carry the load every night.
"The last thing you want to do is put any doubt in coach’s mind that we can’t close games like this without (Nowitzki), because then he may not get the type of rest that he actually needs. So I was glad that we came out and closed this one out, and I hope he gets more rest in the future because it would help us in the long run.’’
Nowitzki, 36, will be back in uniform when the Mavs (13-5) play the Chicago Bulls (11-6) Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the United Center. But the fact that seldom-used reserves Charlie Villanueva (11 points) and Richard Jefferson (10 points) came off the bench against the Sixers and provided the offense normally supplied by Nowitzki was a major boost for the Mavs.
"Guys knew they were going to play (against the Sixers) and I thought they did a great job of stepping in and giving us some great minutes,’’ point guard Devin Harris said. "I thought we did a great job of substituting and keeping guys fresh, especially against a team like this who runs with a high pace.
"It was an opportunity for the guys to step in, and they definitely played well.’’