Dirk to teammates: 'Find a way to win some games'

DALLAS – A couple of years ago, Dirk Nowitzki rushed back because the Mavs’ results were so bad without him, as they lost seven of nine games in his absence.

That’s not going to happen again. Coming off the first knee surgery of his career, Nowitzki has to take a long-term view, meaning he won’t rush back regardless of the Mavs’ record while he rehabs.

“The boys need to find a way to win some games, sometimes with defense, win some ugly games,” Nowitzki said. “But definitely find a way to win some games and play some decent basketball until I come back.”

The schedule should certainly help the Mavs’ cause. Based on opponents’ winning percentage last season, the Mavs have the NBA’s softest schedule through Thanksgiving.

“We got a little break there,” Nowitzki said.

Nevertheless, Nowitzki’s supporting cast has quite a challenge on its hands. It’s a group of complementary scorers, with seven players who averaged at least 9.6 points for their respective teams last season but none who averaged more than 13.1.

“We definitely do have some weapons that can make plays,” point guard Darren Collison said. “Do we want to have Dirk? Of course we’d rather have Dirk, but we have a lot of guys that can make plays, as well.”

Added coach Rick Carlisle: “We’ve got to have a team of go-to guys. We’ve got to have everybody ready to step up.”