OKLAHOMA CITY – There was one morsel of good news Monday night for the Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki reported that he felt fine in his return from a two-game layoff due to a strained right adductor, a muscle in the upper thigh. It was just hard to tell by the results, with Nowitzki scoring only 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting and grabbing only three rebounds in the Mavs’ blowout loss to the Thunder.
Nevertheless, Nowitzki said he felt “good” as far as his health was concerned.
“I actually thought I was moving OK,” Nowitzki said. “That part was fine. I’ll obviously keep taking the meds and see how it is. The meds had some time to kick in over the weekend, so I felt fine out there.”
Nowitzki acknowledged Monday morning that the timing of his muscle pull “stinks.” He had just started to resemble the perennial All-Star he’d been for more than a decade, pouring in a season-high 26 points in Portland before the adductor acted up late in that game.
The rhythm that Nowitzki has finally generated is gone. He’ll have to try to get it going again, but it never happened against the Thunder, who have held him to an average of 12.3 points on 26.8 percent shooting in three OKC wins this season.
“His shooting numbers weren’t good, but I thought he moved well,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We came up against a big-time opponent and we made too many mistakes. When that happens, nobody looks good.”
Added Nowitzki: “I’m going to keep pushing. I’m going to keep getting better.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ league-high ninth loss by at least 20 points:
Perkins, who invented a rivalry with Tyson Chandler during the 2011 West finals and got into a heated confrontation with Nowitzki and Carlisle during last year’s first round, drew a technical foul after barking in Crowder’s face during the second quarter.
The drama started after Crowder committed the apparently unforgivable act of hitting a jumper over Perkins. According to Crowder, Perkins responded with a colorful phrase that included some expletives, which Crowder repeated as a response.
When play stopped after the next possession, Perkins marched from under the basket to near the free throw line to continue the conversation in close proximity. O.J. Mayo took up to his rookie teammate, hollering at Perkins for several seconds during the timeout.
“All it was was him trying to intimidate me,” Crowder said. “That’s him.”
2. Mavs missed Carter: Sixth man Vince Carter watched the game in the locker room because he was sick. One can only imagine how he felt while watching the Thunder seize control late in the first quarter, when he typically enters the game.
“When we substituted, we struggled,” Carlisle said. “Not having Vince out there was a big factor, but we’ve got to play better, too.”
The Mavs hope Carter will be able to play Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Marion had 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Jones dominated garbage time, scoring 12 of his 15 points in the fourth. Jones was 5-of-8 from the floor in 14 minutes.
It was somewhat newsworthy that Jones was on the floor at all. He played a grand total of 53 seconds in the entire month of January.