The Mavericks hope to have Nowitzki in the lineup when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats.
Nowitzki left Dallas’ 112-97 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday late in the second quarter with a strained back and did not return. He is listed as day-to-day and his status for Friday is uncertain.
“He should be OK,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said after Wednesday’s loss. “Him not being there at the end is no excuse for (Wednesday’s) loss.”
Dallas guard Jason Terry, who scored 15 points in Wednesday’s loss, said playing without Nowitzki did make a difference.
“It’s tough when you lose your key player,” he said. “It was a big factor.”
Nowitzki averaged 26.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in this season’s first three games and scored 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting against the 76ers before leaving with the injury.
Nowitzki is not the only Maverick questionable to play. Guard Devin Harris, averaging 9.8 points as a reserve, sprained his left ankle in the third quarter and is also listed as day-to-day.
With the team struggling with injuries, small forward Keith Van Horn has been a key contributor off the bench. He scored 19 points against the 76ers and is averaging 13.5 points, a team-high 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
Dallas has had trouble taking care of the ball this season, an area they will need to be better at against Charlotte, which leads the NBA with 12.2 steals per game.
The Bobcats had 14 steals against the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday, but still fell 94-86 to the defending champions.
“I think the positive thing we can take out of this is we are a young team trying to learn how to close ball games and they just showed us a perfect example,” said Gerald Wallace, who led Charlotte with 15 points.
Charlotte is looking to recover from an exhausting start to the season. The Bobcats, who went into overtime in three of their first four game, conclude a four-game homestand Friday before visiting Miami on Saturday.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 10): Mavericks - 3rd place (tied), 1 1/2 GB, Southwest Division. Bobcats - 3rd place (tied), 1 1/2 GB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Mavericks - Nowitzki, 23.0 ppg; Van Horn, 8.8 rpg; Terry, 4.5 apg. Bobcats - Wallace, 16.2 ppg; Okafor, 10.6 rpg; Knight, 7.6 apg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: March 19; Mavericks, 104-93. At Charlotte, N.C., Nowitzki scored 33 points and Terry added 18 to led the Mavericks in Johnson’s first game as head coach. Keith Bogans had 27 points for the Bobcats.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mavericks - 1-2 on the road; Bobcats - 1-2 at home.