Dirk gets back in a groove

DALLAS – It’d be a stretch to call it a slump, but the big German certainly wasn’t in a groove entering this homestand.

Then Dirk Nowitzki put up 28 points in 32 minutes, hitting 10 of 16 shots from the floor in Sunday’s win over the Detroit Pistons.

“I guess he’s an All-Star,” coach Rick Carlisle said, poking a little fun at a pregame line of questioning.

Yeah, so much for a slump.

Not that Nowitzki denies that he was in a little rut. He took a game off in Toronto because the hectic schedule took too much out of his 35-year-old legs. That came on the heels of a couple of off nights, as Nowitzki averaged only 17.5 points on 37.8 shooting in the Mavs’ previous two games.

Nowitzki returned for the road trip finale in Brooklyn, sporting a rubber sleeve on his stiff left knee and stunk it up again by his standards, scoring 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting.

So it was certainly nice for the Mavs to see their face of the franchise start strong and stay hot in the opener of a four-game homestand.

It was an impressive all-around performance for Nowitzki, who grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists, but his offensive efficiency was especially outstanding. Nowitzki was 10-of-16 from the floor, 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 5-of-5 from the line.

“I had some good shots,” Nowitzki said. “I watched a little bit of film, what happened in Cleveland and Brooklyn, I still thought I had some shots there. Just never really had a good rhythm on this trip. I obviously sat out Toronto. Got a little shots in this morning, got some rest yesterday and just stepped in my shots when they were there.

“Guys kept looking for me. Got open on some pick-and-rolls and usually what happens is if you make a couple of shots, your confidence goes up and you make a couple more.”

Happy birthday, Vince Carter: The Mavs’ greybeard celebrated his 37th birthday in style, as sixth man Vince Carter scored 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting and recorded five rebounds and three assists in the win over the Pistons.

Not bad for a guy who woke up in the morning feeling a lot older than usual. Carter still felt creaky during pregame warmups, but that wore off pretty quickly once he worked up a sweat.

“I felt sluggish at first,” Carter said. “I felt like I was dragging. I don’t know if it’s the 37-year-old blues or something. I don’t know, but after that, once I got going and got warm, I was fine.”