Minute Men: Dirk Nowitzki up; good or bad?

Our weekly look at how coach Rick Carlisle is managing the minutes of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd during this 66-game schedule:

DALLAS -- It's like the old days for Dirk Nowitzki, who is logging a heavy workload, averaging 35.3 minutes in four games this past week and shouldering the scoring burden, averaging 28.3 of the Mavs' rather lethargic 89.8 points a game.

That's not all good news. The Mavs went 2-2 in those four games with wins over slumping Philadelphia and spiraling

Boston, and close losses to Linsanity and the Lakers.

As for Jason Kidd, he's now eight games back from his second injury. His shooting has improved -- it couldn't have gotten much worse -- and his stats over the last four games have increased incrementally to 7.0 points and 6.0 assists in 28.8 minutes. Only once, Wednesday against the Lakers, did Mavs coach Rick Carlisle play Kidd more than he would like, taking him to 34 minutes, about four over the preferred barrier.

"We had rollover minutes," Carlisle said. "He's got five days off. [Head athletic trainer] Casey [Smith] and I talked about it, and Jason, and this is an exception. When we get [Rodrigue] Beaubois back that's going to help. In the second half, I decided not to play [Dominique] Jones just because I thought this was the kind of game where we needed our veterans out there. Going into the game, understood that Jason could end up at 32 or 33, but he's got a break now and coming back we've got to kind of pick it up where we left off."


Season averages: 28.3 mpg, 5.1 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.6 rpg

The breakdown: Since his 13-point game against Denver in last week's breakdown, Kidd's scoring has decreased in each of the next four games: 9, 8, 6 and 5. It's important to note because everyone knows that Kidd isn't going to light up the scoreboard on a regular basis, but it is important for him to be close to double figures. Because Kidd shoots almost exclusively 3-pointers, when he's close to 10 points it typically means he's hit a few 3s and that's always a big weapon in the grand scheme of the Mavs' offense. When he's ice cold from the perimeter it can lead to transition the other way and ultimately spreads the scoring pressure around. He nailed 4-of-6 against Denver but went 7-of-24 (29.2 percent) in the four games since.


Season averages: 32.7 mpg, 19.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 apg

The breakdown: The good news is the point production is going up. The bad news? Dirk's minutes skyrocketed this week. In the last four games, he played 36, 30, 38 and 37 minutes. The good news is the All-Star break is here and Dallas doesn't play again until Tuesday. The bad news (and good news, too) is Nowitzki, 33, is an All-Star for an 11th consecutive team. But, that means he's off to Orlando for a busy weekend of media appearances, NBA events, the All-Star Game itself and then back home. It's a whirlwind and Dirk will be on his feet a lot. The Mavs will need their leading scorer to be at his fully rested best when he gets back because they've got nine games coming in 12 nights with six on the road, including a back-to-back-to-back to wrap it up.