Grizzlies-Mavericks Preview

Dirk Nowitzki and coach Rick Carlisle have returned to practice

since missing the Dallas Mavericks’ last game due to illnesses.

They were in good spirits and cracking jokes upon coming back,

perhaps because Dallas now has Brandan Wright available again.

Wright provided a boost his last time out in his season debut

and should help the Mavericks on the boards Wednesday night at home

as they try to hand the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies a fifth

straight loss.

Dallas (14-10) won 106-93 over lowly Milwaukee at home Saturday

without Nowitzki, who was sick. Nowitzki came back to practice

Monday.

“I felt a lot better during the day Saturday, but it really hit

me Friday night,” Nowitzki said. “Friday, I was struggling to keep

fluids in, so Saturday I didn’t feel that hot. But I’m glad the

boys pulled it out.”

Nowitzki then went on with a joke at the expense of the Dallas

Cowboys, who blew a 23-point halftime lead in Sunday’s 37-36 loss

to Green Bay.

“I felt a lot better already come Sunday, until I watched the

Cowboys game,” he said. “Then I got sick again.”

Carlisle was absent since he has been fighting an upper

respiratory problem. He was also back at practice, where he said he

was over the illness but joked about it by referencing the popular

television show “Homeland.”

“When you get it, you feel like Brody in Caracas without the

heroin probably,” Carlisle said.

Perhaps the Mavericks were in a light-hearted mood because of

how Wright came in and scored 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting off the

bench in his first action after missing the first 23 games with a

shoulder injury.

Wright’s presence has given Dallas another big man in its

rotation with DeJuan Blair and Samuel Dalembert, who did not see

action for the first time Saturday. Nowitzki is excited to get onto

the court with Wright.

“He’s good at the stuff that I stink at,” Nowitzki said. “He

plays above the rim.”

Wright should help against Memphis (10-14), which has

outrebounded Dallas by an average of 10.3 in the last three

meetings. The Mavs beat the Grizzlies 111-99 on Nov. 2 behind

Nowitzki’s 24 points.

“(We’ll) be sharp hopefully on Wednesday against a physical team

that always gives us trouble on the boards so we gotta be ready,”

Nowitzki said.

The Grizzlies had a healthy Marc Gasol then and are now 3-8

without the injured big man following Tuesday’s 96-92 home loss to

the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gasol and Mike Conley combined for 47 points the last time these

teams met, but both could be out Wednesday. That’s because Conley

missed his first game Tuesday after bruising his left thigh in

Sunday’s 101-93 loss to Minnesota.

The last two defeats have followed a familiar pattern. The

Grizzlies fell behind by 11 points after one period against the

Timberwolves and were down by 10 after 12 minutes versus the

Lakers.

“We are letting teams get up by shooting the basketball and

getting loose balls,” coach Dave Joerger said. “They are getting

after us instead of us getting after them.”

Zach Randolph had 18 points and a season-high 16 rebounds

Tuesday for his third straight double-double.