ESPN Network: ESPN | NBA.com | WNBA.com | NHL.com | ABCSports | ESPN Radio | EXPN | Page 2 | Insider | Shop | Fantasy
espn.com scoreboard schedule bracket gallery nba
Friday, May 23
Updated: May 24, 1:12 AM ET
 
Nelson unsure if Nowitzki will return for series

Associated Press

DALLAS -- Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki sprained his left knee with 7:45 left in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Friday night, landing so hard that he said "I couldn't move my leg any more,'' and might not be able to play again in the series.

Coach-general manager Don Nelson said Nowitzki will undergo an MRI on Saturday, but he's not optimistic about what it will show.

Dirk Nowitzki
Forward-Center
Dallas Mavericks
Profile
2002-2003 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
80 25.1 9.9 3.0 .463 .881

"The news is not good,'' Nelson said. "His knee is very sore. I don't expect he'll play and I'm not sure if he'll play in this series. We should not take a gamble or a chance on Dirk Nowitzki. I told Dirk he must feel he's totally 100 percent for me to play him again this series.''

The Mavericks lost the game 96-83 and trail in the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday night in Dallas.

Nowitzki, who left the building on crutches, was more optimistic about returning. He also could be underestimating what happened. He added that he's never had a knee injury before, "so really the pain is new to me.''

"It's a bad break, but we'll just have to see how it feels tomorrow,'' he said. "This series is a long ways from being over.''

Losing Nowitzki, the Mavericks' leading scorer and rebounder, would be a huge blow to their bid to make the NBA Finals for the first time.

"I think we have enough soldiers in this locker room to put us in position to win,'' guard Michael Finley said. "But it'll be tougher. Everyone has to take their game up if he's unable to play.''

Dallas knows firsthand how much such an injury can hurt. The Mavericks beat Sacramento after it lost Chris Webber last round. First-round foe Portland also lost a starter, with Derek Anderson sustaining a knee injury that required immediate surgery.

Nowitzki was coming down with a loose ball when he and San Antonio's Manu Ginobili collided with about 8:03 left. Ginobili's body hit Nowitzki's stiff left leg. Play continued up and down the court before action stopped and trainers came to Nowitzki's aid.

"I didn't see anything,'' Ginobili said. "I was surprised when we came back that he was still there. I didn't mean to hurt him.''

Nowitzki stayed down on the court for several minutes, then left for the locker room with his arms around the shoulders of teammates Walt Williams and Popeye Jones. They took him to a tunnel under the stands, where he rode a cart the rest of the way. He was hurt under the same basket where Webber went down.

"I really don't know what happened,'' Nowitzki said. "It happened real quick. Somebody, I think it was Ginobili that fell on my leg. I don't know what I did. Next think I know my knee was hurting pretty bad. ... I couldn't move my leg any more.''

Nowitzki had 15 points and nine rebounds in 40 minutes, but shot just 7-of-20.

"The main thing we have to think about now is the health of Dirk Nowitzki and making sure we don't do something silly for a game or two,'' Nelson said. "Nothing is more important than Dirk Nowitzki's health and I will not jeopardize that.''

Nowitzki missed two games this season with a sprained right ankle, both in December. The first was a loss to San Antonio, then Dallas beat Memphis.

"I think those guys have done a pretty good job the couple of times he's been out to take the offense upon themselves,'' San Antonio's Tim Duncan said. "He will take a lot away from their game because he's also a very good rebounder.

"They'll fill his spot, but we can't worry about what they'll do.''

Nelson said Dallas' entire frontcourt rotation is banged up.

Shawn Bradley twisted his right knee in the third quarter and didn't return. Eduardo Najera missed Game 2 with an injury and Nelson revealed after the game that end-of-the-bench center Evan Eschmeyer has been hurt and not practicing.

Nelson said Bradley is "a big part'' of the non-Nowitzki strategy, "and I don't know if he's going to be available the next game.''
Mavericks
Dallas

60-22

Roster
Playoff History

San Antonio
San Antonio

60-22

Roster
Playoff History

Series Index
 



 

ESPNWeb

 ALSO SEE


• Stein: All parties know risking Dirk would be wrong

• Spurs put hurt on Mavs as Dirk damages knee


 ESPN Tools
Email story
 
Most sent
 
Print story
 
Daily email