Dirk Nowitzki jams right wrist, returns

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who recently regained his All-Star form after a lengthy injury absence, is hurting again.

Nowitzki suffered a jammed right wrist when a player was pushed into him while he was boxing out for a rebound during the first quarter of Monday's 99-96 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. He returned to the game midway through the second quarter.

X-rays on the wrist were negative.

"It'll be better from day-to-day," said Nowitzki, who missed nine games in late December and January because of a sprained right knee. "I'll be OK."

Nowitzki, who is averaging 23.4 points on a career-best 52.7 percent shooting, had a brace when he returned to the Mavericks' bench. However, he got rid of it before checking back into the game. He wore black athletic tape on the wrist during the second half.

The hope is that ice and rest will allow the wrist to heal well enough for Nowitzki to play in Wednesday's road game against the Sacramento Kings without a brace or tape.

"I don't really like it because I've still got to be able to shoot and bend back and forth," said Nowitzki, who scored only 12 points against the Cavaliers. "I tried the tape, and everything wasn't really working there. But it doesn't matter. We've got the win. We can move on."

The Mavericks went 2-7 with Nowitzki sidelined for the longest stretch of his 13-year career. They continued to struggle after his return, losing the next two games to extend that losing streak to a decade-long six games.

Nowitzki shot less than 50 percent from the floor in six of his first seven games after his comeback from the knee injury, but he had caught fire during the Mavs' current nine-game winning streak. Nowitzki averaged 25.2 points on 62 percent shooting in the previous five games before Monday's win.

Nowitzki appeared to play tentatively after the injury. He made five of 11 shots from the floor against the Cavs, attempting only six shots after the first quarter. Coach Rick Carlisle said the wrist affected Nowitzki but also pointed out that the Cavs continued to double-team him, opening up opportunities for other Mavericks.

"Even when he's not himself, he's such an important player for us and he's such a great player that you've got to have him in there," Carlisle said.

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.