Minute Men: Resting up for upcoming dirty dozen?

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

DALLAS -- Owner Mark Cuban suggested that now that the schedule evens out a bit for the Dallas Mavericks in terms of a nice stretch with at least a day off between most games that coach Rick Carlisle will look to play his starters more minutes together, including Jason Kidd.

Yet, in the Mavs' return home from that brutal three-game road trip, Kidd played just 23 minutes against Washington, sitting out the entire fourth quarter as Rodrigue Beaubois played well enough to afford Kidd the extra rest.

"Really significant because down the stretch I wanted to keep Kidd out if possible and have Roddy and Jet finish," Carlisle said of the 107-98 win over the Wizards on Tuesday. "Ideally, I'd have liked to have sat Dirk down the stretch, too, but the lead wasn't substantial enough and the games are just too tenuous, they're too back-and-forth straight across the board."

Still, Nowitzki played just 28 minutes in the game due to rare foul trouble and just 5:11 in the fourth quarter. Decreased minutes for both vets was a theme the last week, possibly with Carlisle looking ahead to a monster stretch of games.


Season averages: 28.1 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 5.4 apg, 4.1 rpg

The breakdown: After scoring 12 points in 30 minutes a week ago at Phoenix, Kidd has barely broken a sweat. He played 22 minutes Friday at Sacramento, took Saturday off at Golden State and logged just 23 minutes against Washington. If he can get another light night tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats, it would set up the soon-to-be-39-year-old with seemingly plenty of energy to expend in the 12-game, possibly season-defining stretch against premium competition that starts Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs. That's when, as Cuban noted, you'll probably see Kidd's minutes begin to be stretched.


Season averages: 32.1 mpg, 20.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.0 apg

The breakdown: Nowitzki is coming off his second-most efficient scoring game of the season, hitting 10-of-14 shots for 27 points in the win against Washington (he made 9-of-10 at Detroit on Jan. 10) while playing the fewest minutes (28) since Feb. 15 (25), excluding the 10 minutes he logged at Memphis before leaving the game with back tightness. As bad a week as it was for the Mavs, at least Nowitzki wasn't loaded down with a tons of minutes in the lost cause. Since logging 36 minutes at Phoenix a week ago, he's averaged 29.0 minutes in the last three games. Like Kidd, if Dirk can take a seat for most or all of the fourth quarter against the Bobcats, it would certainly set up well for Saturday's game against the Spurs, who play at Oklahoma City on Friday night.