Dirk Nowitzki sick; Vince Carter out

Dirk Nowitzki missed the morning's shootaround with a cold but the Mavericks' leading scorer was in the lineup Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Vince Carter is already out of action, and he was sent back to Dallas on Wednesday to have his sprained left foot examined Thursday by team doctor T.O. Souryal. That takes Carter out for Thursday's game at Utah and almost certainly Saturday's contest at the New Orleans Hornets.

Nowitzki had a difficult assignment guarding Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, who is coming off a 10-point outing in Tuesday's blowout loss at Utah. Griffin is averaging 21.9 points on 52.9 percent shooting -- and has improved his midrange jumper -- and 11.4 rebounds.

Carlisle said taking on Griffin will be a challenge for a defense that has risen to No. 3 in the league in scoring, allowing 88.5 points a game.

"We've got to have a whole posse of guys ready to play him and a lot of different defensive schemes depending on who plays him," Carlisle said. "He's made great strides as a player and now he's playing with better guys and that's elevated his game even moreso. Defending him in their basic stuff is challenging enough and then the stuff where he's running and flying to the rim, that's the stuff where we've got to, as a team, be back, get bodies on him and all those kind of things."

Carter sprained his left foot in Monday's 73-70 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers while making a move to his right to get off a game-tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer. He got the shot off, but missed.

Carter said he stepped wrong and heard a "pop." X-rays taken at Staples Center revealed no break.

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavs for ESPNDallas.com.