For the fourth time this season, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t play Dirk Nowitzki so he could rest his aching body.
Nowitzki sat out Thursday night’s game in Sacramento against the Kings one night after he played 30 minutes and was 4-of-15 from the field and scored only 15 points in the 128-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
“It’s just high frequency of games and it’s a long season,” coach Rick Carlisle said of his reasoning for resting Nowitzki after the Mavs lost for the fifth time in eight games. “So we’ve got to do the best things for our veteran players.”
Nowitizki will turn 37 in June and the Mavs have closely monitored his playing time. The 18-year veteran also sat out the Nov. 29 game in Philadelphia, the Dec. 3 game in Milwaukee and the Jan. 14 game in Denver.
All of those games were on the last end of a back-to-back, as was Thursday’s game in Sacramento.
Thursday’s game also was the Mavs’ seventh in 10 days as the Mavs are going through one of their toughest stretches of the season.
“We understand and we adjust,” center Tyson Chandler said. “It gives other guys opportunities to step up.
“We’re a deep team, but clearly we’re a better team with him out there. But I think they do an excellent job of picking their spots with him sitting and we should be able to make the adjustments.”
Carlisle said Nowitzki has held up fine and is averaging his lowest minutes (29.7) since his rookie campaign.
The Mavs, who host Portland on Saturday, are looking more at the big picture when it comes to their star player.
“To that continuous good direction, this is a cautionary-type thing,” Carlisle said. “We just got to get him ready to play Saturday.”
A player such as Al-Farouq Aminu should see his playing time increase when Nowitzki doesn’t play, articularly because Aminu has been playing well.
When asked if the production of Aminu played a role in his decision to not play Nowitzki, Carlisle said: “It wouldn’t have mattered. We really like the way Aminu is playing; he’s playing terrific and he’s getting better and better.
“His improvement has been a big bright spot for us. When you get a guy like Dirk’s not playing, its next man up — everybody bumps up a spot.”
Carlisle said there was no consideration given to not playing guard Monta Ellis, who was just 7-of-19 from the field and scored only 14 points in 39 minutes against the Warriors.
“He knows I’m not going to do that,” Ellis said, when asked if he would sit out a game if Carlisle asked him to. “He knows I’m not going to take no night off.”
Starting with the game against Portland, the Mavs have three games at home in five days before they pause for the weeklong All-Star break. It’s a break all of the Mavs are looking forward to.
“This seems like one of the toughest schedules of my career as far as games played and the travel schedule,” Chandler said. “But we’ve got to find a way to gut it out and get wins throughout this stretch.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760