Dirk Nowitzki to sit out Saturday
"It's frustrating. When it first happened, I never thought I was going to miss two weeks," Nowitzki said. "I guess I took the whole situation a little too lightly, but I don't have a lot of experience with knee injuries -- that's a good thing. Hopefully, these next couple of days it will respond good and I'll be ready to go."
Nowitzki, who provided a progress report after Friday's practice in which he was limited to riding a stationary bike, said the knee feels "way better" than it did when he injured it in at Oklahoma City on Dec. 27. However, he said he still feels pain pushing off and jumping, make it impossible for him to play in a game.
He said he tried to test the knee during Thursday morning's shootaround, but quickly realized he couldn't play.
"As long as I still have pain, we don't want to try every day and keep aggravating it," Nowitzki said. "So we decided to shut it down for a couple of days here. I've been doing a lot -- running in the pool, riding the bike -- so I feel like I'm staying in shape."
The Mavs fell to 2-4 without him after Thursday night's home loss to the Thunder. After Saturday's game, the Mavs have three days off before a four-game road trip that starts Wednesday at Indiana and swings south through San Antonio for a third matchup against the Western Conference-leading Spurs two nights later.
Nowitzki, averaging 24.1 points on 54.5 percent shooting and 7.4 rebounds, said he hopes to be able to participate at least partially when Dallas gets back on the practice floor Monday.
"We've got three days off where we can hopefully slowly get some work in ... and then we'll just take it day-by-day and see what it's looking like on the road trip," Nowitzki said. "It's been a frustrating time for me, obviously, watching from the sideline. We've lost a bunch of games where I think I could have helped in the in the fourth quarter. The team is playing hard. It's tough to see your two main scorers go down within a week."
The Mavs lost small forward Caron Butler to a season-ending knee injury last week in Milwaukee. In the seven games prior to rupturing the patellar tendon in his right knee, Butler was averaging nearly 20 points a game.
"I view it as an opportunity for other guys to step up and to work on our game when we don't have those guys," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "You've got to be positive in these situations. My belief in these other guys has never been higher. We've got to be very steadfast about the things that are important and be true to those things. If we do that we'll put ourselves in a good position."
Nowitzki had never missed more than five consecutive games due to injury and that was back in 2003-04. His absence Saturday will set a career high for most games missed in a season due to injury.
When he returns, Nowitzki, who mostly has had sprained ankles during his 13-year career, might show up with a new apparatus -- a knee brace. He said he was fitted for one Thursday, although he said he's not particularly fond of it.
"I'm not worried," Nowitzki said. "I don't think it's anything that could get worse now or will be an issue for the rest of the year. We're trying to make sure it is all gone and I can play injury-free for the rest of the year."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.
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