DALLAS – After injuries Monday night to center Tyson Chandler and shooting guard Monta Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki delivered the bad news no Dallas Maverick wanted to hear.
"We don’t really expect either to play on Wednesday (against the Utah Jazz),’’ Nowitzki said following Monday’s 115-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at American Airlines Center. "And we’ve got to be better.
"We’ve got to be better with what we’ve got. We’ve got to be better defensively, we’ve got to somehow find ways to have five guys in there rebounding.’’
Chandler injured his left ankle with 10:36 remaining in the first quarter, and Ellis injured his left hip with 8:03 to go in the first period. Neither player returned to the game, and their absence clearly had the Mavs off-balanced all night.
Coupled with the loss of injured point guard Rajon Rondo, the Mavs were without three starters against one of the more talented teams in the NBA.
Now comes the challenge of getting all three players back on the court. But the week-long All-Star break, which starts for the Mavs after the game against the Jazz, should be beneficial.
"Hopefully they won’t be out too long,’’ Nowitzki said. "We’ll see how Rondo does after the All-Star break.
"Monta, I guess, is going to have an MRI tomorrow, I’m guessing. And Tyson, we hope it’s just a mild sprain and he’ll be back after the break as well.’’
Without their leading scorer (Ellis), rebounder (Chandler) and assist man (Rondo), the Mavs were like The Commodores without Lionel Richie. They kept running into one brick wall after another and dropped to 35-19 on the season.
"You down three starters, that’s obviously not perfect,’’ said Nowitzki, who had 18 points and seven rebounds. "But like I said, defensively we never got any traction.
"We’ve got to try to rotate for each other and play hard. I don’t know what else to tell you.’’