Tyson Chandler tells Dirk not to rush it

SAN ANTONIO -- As someone who has agonized on the bench with injuries over the last two seasons, helpless to aid his team, Tyson Chandler said no matter how bad things seem at the moment, Dirk Nowitzki can't rush his return.

"I want him to be 100 percent before he comes back," Chandler said. "The thing is you don’t want to rush anything. I’ve been there. I’ve rushed. I’ve been on the sideline and been in the same situation, watched my team lose, watched my team suffer, and then try to jump back out there and before you know it something else is bothering you. We need him for the long haul."

As dire as things might appear with the Dallas Mavericks losing six of eight without Nowitzki, a wider view of the overall season suggests otherwise. The Mavs enter Friday's game at the San Antonio Spurs -- with or without Nowitzki -- with the third-best record in the Western Conference at 26-11. While they've lost ground on the Spurs, Dallas is not in jeopardy of dropping out of the playoff mix or even, at this point, out of the top four considering Nowitzki's return is getting closer.

"As tough as it is to take losses -- I’m a very passionate person and I take every loss personally – I would much rather have him down the stretch when it counts," Chandler said. "This is not the playoffs. We’re not winning any championships right now. But I’m not going to kid you, it is build throughout the season. The thing we have to do is bunker down as individuals defensively and really try to turn this thing around."