No one has to tap Dirk Nowitzki on the back and remind him that his shooting stroke has been a bit off lately.
The Dallas Mavericks’ 12-time All-Star is aware of it and he’s trying to do something about it.
“I pride myself on being an efficient scorer, so I don’t think, really, since December, I haven’t been as efficient as I would like,” Nowitzki said after Friday’s practice. “But by staying confident and working on my game and just keep stepping into it when they’re there, eventually things will hopefully turn around.”
Over the past five games, Nowitzki is averaging just 15.8 points a game. He has hit only 30 of 74 shots — 40.5 percent — and 3 of 10 baskets from 3-point range. By contrast, in the four games before that he averaged 20.5 points, made 26 of 51 shots for a healthy 51 percent, and made half of his eight 3-point attempts.
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Nowitzki has been battling a stomach illness that he developed a few weeks ago. But he wouldn’t admit if that’s at the root of his shooting woes.
“I think I’ve slowly shaken it, so hopefully things will start feeling better out there again,” Nowitzki said. “Like I said, being more efficient again is my goal.
“It’s not like I have an average in my head that I want to do. I want to be an efficient scorer, I want to help the guys on rebounding and defense, which I’ve got to do more of.”
As the Mavs (26-11) open a three-game road trip at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers (24-12), they know a lot of players have to do more if they hope to win.
Nowitzki was just 8-of-19 from the field and 0-of-3 from behind the 3-point line during Wednesday’s 108-95 home loss to the Detroit Pistons. The 17-year veteran noted there’s nothing mechanically wrong with his shot.
“I think I had some good looks there the last game against the Pistons,” Nowitzki said. “I had some in-and-outs lately, and I’ve just got to stick with it.”
And in sticking with it, Nowitzki’s knows he can’t afford to miss shots when he finds himself with some wide-open looks.
“I just have to react to what’s out there, but I still like to make the ones I’m open,” Nowitzki said. “I’ve got to cash in on those.
“I figure I’m not going to get a lot of wide-open looks in a game, so I’ve got to be a little more consistent there and make some of the tough ones.”
Usually about the time Nowitzki is struggling with his shot, his longtime mentor and personal coach, Holger Geschwindner, arrives from Germany and magically gets him back on track.
But with the Mavs playing 12 of 16 games this month on the road, practice time is limited, and Geschwindner probably wouldn’t have much court time to spend with his prized pupil in January.
“I think he usually comes in early February and stays throughout the All-Star Game,” Nowitzki said. “We’ll just see and play it by ear.
“We’ve got a lot of road games here in January. It’s kind of hard to shoot sometimes, and shoot at night or get gyms.”
Coach Rick Carlisle isn’t worried about Nowitzki’s shooting touch being a bit erratic lately.
“Nobody is going to have a great shooting night every night,” Carlisle said. “You’ve got to get the looks, step into the shots and be real aggressive, and the results will take care of themselves.
“I’m not concerned about that. I look more at the pace that we’re playing at, how the ball’s moving, if a lot of guys are touching it. If those things are happening, generally we get pretty good shots.”
Carlisle said that there’s nothing out of sorts with Nowitzki’s rhythm, that his teammates have located him in various spots on the court, and the team’s ball movement has been impeccable. The shot attempts, however, just aren’t finding their intended target.
“Every shot in a game has a little twist to it,” Nowitzki said. “Sometimes a guy pushes you, sometimes you’re open.
“It’s actually been weird. I think I’ve been making some of the tougher ones, and some of the open ones have been rattling in and out. I’ve just got to keep stepping into it and just go from there.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760