Earl K. Sneed reports from the Mavericks' Friday practice, where Dirk Nowitzki gave reporters an update on his right knee injury.
DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki admits that he may have taken his right knee sprain lightly, after suffering the injury back in the second quarter of a 103-93 win in Oklahoma City on Dec. 27.
Nowitzki hasn’t played since, missing sixth straight games in which the Mavericks have gone just 2-4 without their go-to scorer. Friday afternoon, the 7-footer informed reporters that he will miss his seventh straight outing Saturday when his team takes on the Orlando Magic at the American Airlines Center to conclude a three-game homestand.
“I decided to shut it down for the weekend,” Nowitzki said. “I tried a little bit yesterday before shootaround, just some movement is still bothering me like pushing off and jumping. So, it doesn’t really make sense to try every day. So, we decided to shut it down for the weekend.”
The All-Star power forward hopes to return to action next Wednesday when the Mavericks begin a four-game road trip in Indiana. And No. 41 says that he has already been fitted for a knee brace upon his return.
“We’ve got three days off where I can slowly get some work in on Monday and Tuesday. And then we’ll just take it day by day and see what it’s looking like on the road trip,” Nowitzki said.
After originally injuring the knee after being fouled and coming down awkwardly from a jumper, Nowitzki admits that he never expected to be sidelined as long as he has been. And while being reduced to watching from the sidelines, Nowitzki has also had to sit helplessly while his team has struggled.
“It’s been a frustrating time for me, obviously, watching from the sideline. We lost a bunch of games where I think I could have helped in the fourth quarter. So, it’s been frustrating. But the team’s been holding it down. They’ve been playing hard,” Nowitzki said.
“I never thought once it first happened that I was gonna miss two weeks,” he added. “When it happened, I was basically saying that I’d be back by the weekend. I guess I took the whole situation a little too lightly. But I don’t have a lot of experience with knee injuries, and that’s a good thing. So, hopefully in the next couple of days it will respond good and I’ll be ready to go.”
While the Mavericks practiced on Friday, Nowitzki was to the side riding an exercise bike and shooting free throws before also running in a pool. And Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle says that while Nowitzki is making progress, there was just no need to rush the nine-time All-Star back with just a 1/3 of the season in the books.
“He’s always gonna do everything he can do to get back in this kind of situation, and he wants to be out there,” Carlisle said of Nowitzki’s fight to return to the court.
“He’s handling it as well as a guy in his position can to me,” the coach added. “His activity level has gradually increased, but he’s just not at the point where he’s gonna play.”
But with Nowitzki once again in street clothes come Saturday night, Carlisle knows that other players will need to increase their performances on the court, especially in the wake of Caron Butler’s likely season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair a ruptured right patellar tendon.
“I view it as an opportunity for other guys to step up, and for us to work on our game when we don’t have those guys,” Carlisle explained. “I mean, you’ve got to be positive in these situations. And my belief in these other guys has never been higher.”
Note: The Mavericks conclude their three-game homestand against the Magic Saturday night at the American Airlines Center. Trying to sweep the season series, the Mavs will face off with the Magic in a matchup that will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
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