Mavericks will be without Nowitzki vs. Knicks
Dirk Nowitzki welcomed his third child into the world on Friday, now the Dallas Mavericks are eager to welcome their star forward back onto the court.
Nowitzki has been out of action with a strained right Achilles tendon since November 4th against the Portland Trail Blazers. He initially hurt his Achilles in the Mavericks' season opener on Oct. 26 against the Indiana Pacers.
Dallas (2-6) could certainly use his scoring capability when it meets the New York Knicks (3-6) on Monday at Madison Square Garden. The Mavericks, who have been off since a 116-95 loss to the Golden State Warriors last Wednesday, are averaging 97.1 points, ranking them 26th in the league.
Dallas won five straight games against the Knicks and is 27-11 against New York over the last 20 seasons.
Nowitzki, 38, is the active leader in points scored (29,527) and minutes played (47,332). His wife Jessica gave birth to their son Morris.
Nowitzki practiced over the weekend and is hopeful to join the Mavericks when they play four of their next five games on the road.
“We don't want to rush anything and go back to where we were last week,” Nowitzki told the Dallas Morning News. “So if I feel anything this weekend, they're going to ease off again.
“Obviously, I want to play in the (Madison Square) Garden on Monday (against the Knicks) and I want to play in Boston (on Wednesday) — two of my favorite road spots. But I just don't know at this point if it's going to happen.”
Nowitzki averaged 18 points in two games against the Knicks last season.
The Mavericks will be missing point guard Deron Williams, who is out with a left calf strain. Williams' has missed the last three games. Seth Curry is expected to start in his place.
“He's (Williams) going to be a little longer than hoped,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “There's no timetable. I'd say he's most likely out for New York (on Monday). And Boston (Wednesday) is probably a long shot.”
The Knicks have lost two straight at Boston and Toronto, where the Raptors were 33-of-38 from the line. New York held an opponent under 100 points just once this season.
“It's a learning experience,” Derrick Rose said. “There have probably been numerous games where teams shot 30 or over 35 free throws on us. We've just got to learn from it. When they have the bonus, or when they're close to it, we've got to communicate to each other that we've got to play safe, or under control so we're just not giving them fouls or giving them free throws.”
Forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 31 points against Toronto, but failed to score a field goal in the fourth quarter. Against the Celtics, Anthony picked up two technical fouls in the second quarter and was ejected after scoring just 12 points in the 116-87 loss.
“I don't even know the last time I've been ejected from a game of basketball,” Anthony told the New York Post. “I don't even know what that feels like.
“Being on the road playing a game of that stature, to be kicked out of the game for what reason? Because of a couple of bad words?”
Backup point guard Brandon Jennings was also issued two technicals in the Boston game and was ejected. He was fined $15,000 by the league for directing inappropriate language toward a game official and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection with 3:20 remaining in the contest.
With the Knicks playing their third game in four nights and Anthony, Rose, Courtney Lee and Kristaps Porzingis all averaging at least 30 minutes, New York's bench will have to play a major role against Dallas.
Jennings, the sixth man averaging seven points and 4.6 assists, should be a key.