It was a strange night and strange game at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday.
The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 123-122 in overtime, after being down by as many a 22. Ricky Rubio actually scored points. Monta Ellis couldn’t miss from three. Jose Calderon‘s defense looked worse than it usually is. But, the strangest thing to come out of that heart breaking loss? Dirk Nowitzki.
Dirk scored 27 points. Not bad on the surface. But he shot 11-27 from the field to get those points and was missing shots that he makes. Yikes.
Now, I’m not going to panic on Dirk’s off night. It happens to the best of them. But it does concern me that it just seemed like his legs weren’t there in shots you usually expect him to make in crunch time. Yes, it was an overtime game so fatigue must have set in, but this isn’t the first instance in which he has struggled as of late.
Nowitzki was phenomenal in last week’s win over the Utah Jazz going 12-14 from the field for 31 points, and was pretty good against the Oklahoma City Thunder shooting 6-12 for 17 points. But other than that Dirk has been, well, not Dirk.
Last Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors he shot the ball 36.4 percent from the floor for 12 points. On Monday against the Boston Celtics he shot 35.3 percent and managed 19 points. And then, there was last night’s 11-27 and 0-7 from three-point-range performance. Definitely not the numbers we’ve come to expect from Dirk this season.
It’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on with our beloved Big German. He’s 35 and playing big minutes for a team that’s in the middle of trying to solidify its playoff position. Do the math. Fatigue seems to be setting in a little bit. Plus, the fact that he had to play 39 minutes in an overtime loss yesterday is not at all comforting.
It’s a a bit concerning that Dirk is slumping during this critical last part of the season. This something that he can come out of pretty easily just because of how great a shooter he is, which is part of the reason I’m not panicking. Plus, it’s not like he isn’t getting any help. Monta Ellis had 22 points in Wednesday’s Minnesota loss while Shawn Marion had 16. Plus, Devin Harris and Vince Carter combined for 27 points off the bench. The Mavs just had a poor first half and couldn’t get over the hump in overtime.
Dirk Nowtizki knows how much this stretch of the season means to his Mavs. He’s gone through a slump or two on occasion this season and has managed to come out of it quickly. There’s no reason to be worried just yet.