Leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki left Wednesday’s game at Phoenix in the first quarter with a sprained right ankle and did not return. The injury is expected to keep Nowitzki out of this game.
“It swelled up, and it’s a little worse than the last couple of times I’ve sprained my ankle,” Nowitzki told The Dallas Morning News. “The X-rays look fine, so I don’t think it’ll be too long. But I don’t know about Friday.”
Dallas could also be without center Danny Fortson, who has started the last two games but could be suspended for this contest. Suns president Jerry Colangelo is pushing for a stiff penalty for Fortson after he shoved Phoenix forward Zarko Cabarkapa to the ground in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 121-90 defeat.
Fortson was whistled for a flagrant foul and ejected. Cabarkapa broke his wrist and will be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks. Even Mavs coach Don Nelson felt guilty about the incident.
“I’d like to apologize to the Phoenix Suns’ organization on that last play by Danny Fortson,” Nelson said. “I don’t condone those types of things. It was just a bad basketball play that shouldn’t have happened, and Danny and I will talk about it.”
That incident and the injury to Nowitzki were part of a very bad night for Dallas, which suffered its most lopsided loss in two years. The Mavs had a four-game winning streak snapped as they allowed 110 points for the first time this season.
“We didn’t play with the energy we have played with the last four or five ball games,” said forward Antawn Jamison, who led Dallas with 17 points. “We didn’t play with any kind of urgency whatsoever.”
Denver had a much better experience against Phoenix one night earlier, as Carmelo Anthony led seven Nuggets in double figures with 17 points in a 110-80 rout of the Suns.
It was the fifth win seven games for Denver, off to its best start since the 1994-95 season.
“We’re growing as a team,” said coach Jeff Bzdelik, whose Nuggets won just 17 games last season. “We’re beginning to share the basketball, which makes it easier for us.”
Anthony has averaged 18.7 points in the last three games, hitting 47 percent from the field after shooting below 34 percent through the season’s first 11 games.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 26): Mavericks - 1st place, Midwest Division. Nuggets - 4th place (tied), 1 1/2 GB, Midwest Division.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Mavericks - F Jamison, F Antoine Walker, C Fortson or Shawn Bradley, G Steve Nash, G Michael Finley. Nuggets - F Anthony, F Francisco Elson, C Marcus Camby, G Voshon Lenard, G Andre Miller.
TEAM LEADERS: Mavericks - Nowitzki, 19.2 ppg; Walker, 9.5 rpg; Nash, 7.7 apg. Nuggets - Anthony, 17.1 ppg; Camby, 9.6 rpg; Miller, 4.6 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Saturday; Mavericks, 115-101. At Dallas, offseason acquisitions Jamison and Walker recorded season highs with 26 and 25 points, respectively.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mavericks - 2-5 on the road; Nuggets - 6-1 at home.