Mavs' Nowitzki falls, limps off court with 'lower leg injury'

Updated: March 24, 2008, 1:38 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

DALLAS -- Although no official recovery timetable has been established, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Sunday that the club expects to be without star forward Dirk Nowitzki for at least two weeks after Nowitzki suffered what the team termed a "left lower leg injury" in the third quarter of Sunday's 88-81 loss to San Antonio.

A shellshocked Cuban walked out of American Airlines Center with two fingers aloft to reflect the initial two-week fears.

But Cuban stressed that the time frame is unofficial and wouldn't be confirmed until the condition of Nowitzki's left ankle and knee are thoroughly reviewed Monday. Given Nowitzki's history of fast recoveries from ankle problems, it's also not inconceivable that he could be back in the lineup in less than two weeks if he has only incurred a high ankle sprain without any knee damage.

Sources close to Nowitzki indicated Sunday night that a post-game MRI exam, like earlier X-rays, turned up no immediate issues with the knee.

Nowitzki crumpled to the floor and clutched his left leg in agony after attempting to block a shot by San Antonio's Ime Udoka. Nowitzki's leg appeared to fold and twist awkwardly after Udoka's right leg came down on Nowitzki's as they landed.

Nowitzki started reaching for his ankle and then grabbed his calf, slapping the floor repeatedly. He put a hand on his head, then didn't move while team doctor Tarek Souryal and athletic trainer Casey Smith worked on his lower leg. The arena was silent until Nowitzki sat up.

Nowitzki had 11 points and seven rebounds at the time, with San Antonio leading 56-54 and 3:18 left in the period.

In a statement released by the team, Nowitzki said: "I fell awkwardly and my left leg got caught underneath of me. I am going to get re-evaluated in the morning and I hope to have more information then."

Of course, even one game without Nowitzki is a major blow, as evidenced by a 113-98 loss to Houston earlier this month when Nowitzki was serving a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul on Utah's Andrei Kirilenko.

Fresh off a 67-win season that helped earn MVP honors for Nowitzki, Dallas is clinging to the seventh seed in the West after the San Antonio loss dropped it to 0-8 against teams with a winning record since the Jason Kidd trade. Three of the Mavericks' next five games, furthermore, are against teams -- Denver and Golden State -- directly below them in the standings.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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