With their best player sidelined for at least a week, the Dallas Mavericks are struggling to find some offense.
Nowitzki twisted his left ankle late in the second quarter of the Mavericks’ 110-82 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. After viewing an MRI on Monday, doctors said that he would be able to return in seven to 10 days, meaning he’ll miss three or four games.
Nowitzki leads Dallas with 25.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.27 blocks per game.
“We’re kind of pleased with how he was walking today,” Mavs coach Don Nelson said. “He will miss some games, not as serious as we thought when he first did it.”
The Mavericks lost 83-82 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, matching their lowest point total of the season they set the night before against the Nuggets.
Dallas also played without Michael Finley, who’s on the injured list with a sprained ankle, making it the first game since Dec. 26, 1996 that the Mavericks played without Finley, Nowitzki or point guard Steve Nash, who signed with Phoenix during the offseason.
“This is a game we should have won, but we let it go down the drain,” center Erick Dampier said. “Even without Dirk and Finley, we still have enough talent to compete and win every night.”
“I think I have ample support at every position except Dirk’s,” Nelson said. “He’s such a special player, he’s the one guy we can’t lose. We have to rely on the other guys to step up and find a way to win.”
The Spurs lost 93-90 to Memphis on Monday, their second straight defeat since a six-game winning streak. Tim Duncan had a team-high 26 points for San Antonio, which also got 18 from Tony Parker and 12 from Brent Barry.
“We should have won, but they outplayed us,” Parker said. “They had more energy and were getting every rebound and every loose ball.”
STANDINGS (through Nov. 22): Mavericks - 2nd place, 1/2 GB, Southwest Division. Spurs - 1st place (tied), Southwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Mavericks - Nowitzki, 25.8 ppg and 10.1 rpg; Terry, 3.3 apg. Spurs - Duncan, 24.4 ppg and 12.9 rpg; Parker, 5.2 apg.
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: March 5; Spurs, 113-100. At San Antonio, Parker had a game-high 27 points the Spurs, who won despite being outscored 40-27 in the fourth quarter. Duncan did not play due to a knee injury.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mavericks - 4-2 on the road; Spurs - 4-0 at home.
INJURIES: Mavericks - G-F Finley (ankle); G-F Tariq Abdul-Wahad (knee); C Pavel Podkolzin (knee); F Nowitzki (ankle). Spurs - F Linton Johnson III (ankle); F-C Sean Marks (back); G Romain Sato (knee).