Mavericks-Grizzlies Preview

The Dallas Mavericks have struggled mightily with their leading

scorer on the sidelines, but Dirk Nowitzki could finally make a

much-anticipated return.

The stumbling Mavericks may have Nowitzki back for their road

matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

Dallas (26-12) fell for the seventh time in nine games without

Nowitzki after losing 101-89 to San Antonio on Friday. Mavericks

coach Rick Carlisle said after the game that the nine-time All-Star

could be back from a right knee injury in time to face Memphis

(18-21) before backtracking somewhat.

“Then again, maybe not,” Carlisle said. “We can’t mess with

that.”

Nowitzki is averaging 24.1 points per game, but hasn’t played

since scoring 13 in a win on Dec. 27 at Oklahoma City. The

Mavericks were 24-5 after that contest and only 1 1/2 games behind

the Southwest Division-leading Spurs.

Dallas trails San Antonio by seven games heading into play

Saturday.

“They didn’t have Dirk and we took advantage of it, but it

doesn’t mean nothing because they’re not the same team without

him,” San Antonio guard Tony Parker said Friday.

Nowitzki tallied a team-high 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting in a

91-90 loss at home to the Grizzlies on Oct. 29. He then scored only

12, but pulled down 10 rebounds in a 106-91 victory on Nov. 10 in

Memphis.

Dallas is 10-3 in its last 13 visits to Memphis.

Shawn Marion led Dallas with 14 points Friday while Jason Terry,

who had averaged 17.8 in his previous five games, finished with

nine on 3-of-14 shooting.

Terry could bounce back against the Grizzlies, though, against

whom he has averaged 21.2 points in his last five contests. He had

a team-best 25 off the bench in the win over Memphis in

November.

The Grizzlies return home after closing their three-game road

trip on a positive note following losses to Oklahoma City and

Charlotte.

Despite trailing by as many as 14 on Wednesday, Memphis (18-21)

defeated Detroit 107-99 behind a 64-point second-half – its highest

of the season.

“The road is tough and it’s hard winning anywhere in the NBA,”

said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. “To come in and get one, it’s

always nice and we just move forward.”

Zach Randolph continued his excellent play of late with 34

points and 17 rebounds. He’s averaging 27.0 points and 14.5

rebounds over his last eight games.

“Z-Bo makes it easy for us,” said Rudy Gay, who scored 26 in the

victory. “He’s a big mismatch, because he’s such a load down low.

He gets rebounds and he is always getting himself in position to

score.”

Randolph has averaged 24.3 points – 6.9 more than his career

mark – and 11.0 rebounds in his last 14 games against the

Mavericks.

Gay is averaging a career-best 21.1 points so far in 2010-11,

but only 15.3 in nine career matchups at home with Dallas.

Memphis has won three straight and four of six at home.