Beating one of the top teams in the NBA without Dirk Nowitzki(notes) wasn’t a problem for the Dallas Mavericks. The Southwest Division leaders could get their superstar back Tuesday night as they look to continue their dominance of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Nowitzki is recovering from a gruesome collision with Houston’s Carl Landry(notes) in the first quarter of Friday’s 116-108 overtime loss that ended a five-game win streak. Landry lost five teeth, two of which became embedded in Nowitzki’s right elbow.
Nowitzki needed several stitches and lots of medication and treatment as the elbow is sore, stiff and sensitive to the touch.
“I’m on every pill there is,” said Nowitzki, sixth in the league with 26.1 points per game while leading Dallas with 8.1 rebounds. “We’ll just see how it responds.”
The Mavericks (20-8) didn’t seem to miss the eight-time All-Star on Sunday, as Tim Thomas(notes) filled in and had 22 points and seven rebounds in a 102-95 win over Central Division-leading Cleveland.
“I think we just went about it the same way as if Dirk was playing,” said guard Jason Kidd(notes), who had 10 points and 11 assists. “We didn’t make a big emphasis on ‘Dirk’s out so we’ve got to get 25 points from one individual.’ We’ve got enough guys who can put the ball in the basket. We have to play defense and as a team we did that tonight.”
If Nowitzki can’t play Tuesday, Thomas would likely get a second consecutive start. The forward is averaging 8.8 points and 2.3 boards in 12 games - 11 as a reserve.
“I just wanted to be aggressive with the minutes I was given (Sunday),” Thomas said. “For the last couple of years I’ve been stuck in situations where I’ve been pretty much stuck behind the 3-point line, and coming into this season I told coach I wanted to get back to playing an all-around game, which is my strength. He’s allowed me to do that and that’s what I am capable of doing.”
The Mavs will be looking to beat Portland (17-12) for the 19th time in 21 meetings. They have taken the last 11 matchups in Dallas and 17 of 19.
The Trail Blazers are coming off a 102-95 victory at Miami on Sunday, as Brandon Roy(notes) scored 28 points while going 11 of 14 from the floor and 5 of 5 from 3-point range. He added eight assists and was superb in the final 4 1/2 minutes, sinking all four shots with three coming from beyond the arc.
Roy leads the Blazers with 22.2 points and 5.1 assists per game, and has been even better in helping them win three of the last four, averaging 28.3 points and 5.8 assists in that span.