Coop in Europe: Dirk's knee lingers over loss

ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Chuck Cooperstein, aka "The Voice of the Mavericks", is with the Dallas Mavericks on their first European excursion and will blog on the team's events daily for ESPNDallas.com.

And so ends a horrible week for sports in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Cowboys are seemingly teetering on the edge. The Rangers flamed out spectacularly. The Stars can't get off the ground because of the NHL lockout. And now, the Mavericks have to worry about the condition of their superstar.

The Mavs' 99-85 loss Tuesday to FC Barcelona Regal, one in which they were outplayed by a significant margin for much of the night, was the least of the worries. For the second time in 10 months, concerns surrounding Dirk Nowitzki's right knee hung over the the Mavs as well as the 16,236 in the Palau Sant Jordi, who didn't know until minutes before the tip that the player they had all come to see wouldn't be in the lineup.

Nowitzki's knee started showing signs of stress last week.

"Unfortunately, the last two days it didn't respond great," Nowitzki said. “There was some swelling again, so I think right now in the preseason it's not the time to play on a swollen knee. Hopefully it's just a reaction to running and jumping and we'll see how it responds.”

Nowitzki missed four games last January to get himself into better game shape, and part of that in-season minicamp involved strengthening his right knee. As he got into shape he started to look like himself, although his 21.6 scoring average was the lowest since his second season in the NBA.

He scored 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting in Saturday's opener of the European swing against Alba Berlin.

As for Tuesday's game, Elton Brand started in Nowitzki's place. Brand and Chris Kaman were able to hold off Barcelona's powerful inside game early on, but that wouldn't last. The Mavs wound up getting run over by 12 points and 10 rebounds from Ante Tomic. Princeton-ex C.J. Wallace contributed with eight points and 13 rebounds, and Nathan Jawai -- who was in camp with the Mavs in 2009 -- had 13 points and six rebounds.

Barcelona outrebounded the Mavericks 53-46, which included 14 offensive rebounds.

Juan Carlos Navarro and Pete Mickael led all scorers with 19 points apiece. Navarro, who played in Memphis in 2008, hit four of eight attemps from 3-point range. Kaman led the Mavs with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Mavericks will fly home Wednesday, stopping in Bangor, Maine, to go through customs before arriving in Dallas around 7:45 p.m. Their next game is Monday night at the American Airlines Center against Houston, although the team will go through an open scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at as part of Mavstoberfest.