Dirk (ankle) returns for second half

All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki returned for the second half despite spraining his left ankle early in the second quarter of the Mavericks’ game against the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night.

The Mavs announced Nowitzki’s return as questionable after he exited, but he started the second half.

Nowitzki entered the night ranked 12th in the league in scoring with an average of 21.9 points per game. He had been especially effective recently, averaging 27.0 points on 58.6 shooting as the Mavs won six of their previous seven games.

Nowitzki suffered the injury when Bobcats power forward Josh McRoberts accidentally stepped on his foot while attempting to drive to the basket. Nowitzki went down immediately after twisting his ankle and stayed on the court the rest of the possession, limping off the floor and into the locker room when the Mavs called a timeout with 9:22 remaining in the second quarter.

The 35-year-old Nowitzki has a long history of recovering quickly from ankle sprains. His 11 known ankle sprains during his 16-year career have caused him to miss a total of only 16 games. After spraining his left ankle early in a Jan. 1 win over the Washington Wizards, Nowitzki got his ankle re-taped and checked back into the game minutes later, although he scored only nine points on 3-of-14 shooting in the victory.

UPDATE: Nowitzki and Devin Harris, who twisted his knee during the fourth quarter, both told reporters after the game that they expect to play Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers.