DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki didn't look like he had much energy Friday night. It was his first experience with back-to-back games this season and he's not quite back into game shape yet.
Nowitzki finished with five points on 2-of-10 shooting. He played just 17 minutes, coming out for much of the second half after the Denver Nuggets built a big lead on their way to a 106-85 win.
"I’m going to work myself in better shape, obviously, where I can help a little bit more," Nowitzki said after the game. "Right now I’m not helping that much."
Nowitzki couldn't seem to get into any kind of rhythm and all five of his points were scored in the first quarter. It was his home debut for the season, but it came one night after he played 26 minutes in Oklahoma City.
"I was a step slow. That was obvious," Nowitzki said. "I had no lift in my jumper. Everything was in and out. That last little thing is still missing. It was my first back-to-back. Really, these are my first games in a long time. So, it’s ugly. I’ve got to keep fighting, keep working hard in practice days and eventually I’ll be able to come back."
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle didn't want to push things with Nowitzki in the second half on Friday.
"It was too much tonight," Carlisle said. "That was my decision. It was back-to-back games and he isn't limping or anything, but he just can't give us what everyone expects him to give. We had to get a different guy in there and this process is going to be ongoing. It is tough, but we have to hang in there and in the big picture we have to keep working towards his health, and sometimes that means pulling the plug."
Some more notes from the Mavericks' fifth straight loss:
1. Progress for Mayo: After four poor games, O.J. Mayo played better Friday. He had 15 points in nearly 38 minutes on 6-of-13 shooting. For a guy that had scored 29 points combined in the four games before that, it was progress. But turnovers, which have been an issue for Mayo, showed up again. He had six of them (but also five steals).
"It’s just one game and we took an 'L', so that’s the big picture," Mayo said "We’ll continue to grind. I was overthinking and trying to make plays. I want to go out there and be aggressive."
2. Carlisle praises Collision: The Mavericks coach was quick to praise point guard Darren Collison, who had 10 points and four assists in 32 minutes Friday. No, it wasn't the 32-point effort he had on Thursday in Oklahoma City.
"But you don't score 32 points every night," Carlisle said.
Carlisle said Collison showed good court vision, was where he was supposed to be and made some plays. He wants to see it continue.
3. Defensive gameplan: Danilo Gallinari, who had a career-high 39 points, was 7-for-11 from behind the 3-point stripe. Some of those shots were uncontested, and Gallinari had an interesting quote about it: "So I got to thank the defense they prepared on me for leaving me open for the 3."
Obviously, that wasn't the Mavericks' plan. Even when Dallas had a hand in Gallinari's face, he was able to drain 3-pointers from all over the place. It was an impressive performance.