Nowitzki still leads Mavs with blood, sweat

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports
Nowitzki still leads Mavs with blood, sweat
.

View gallery

Carl Landry's teeth opened a deep gash to Dirk Nowitzki's elbow during this collision

DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki(notes) watched the doctor remove bits of teeth from his right elbow, a surreal experience in itself. The doctor stitched up the cut, sent Nowitzki for X-rays then decided he needed to re-examine the wound. So he took out the stitches and probed the gash until Nowitzki screamed. More stitches followed. There was even talk of possible surgery.

The Dallas Mavericks' injury report stated simply that Nowitzki had a right elbow laceration following his collision with Houston Rockets forward Carl Landry(notes) on Friday. This, however, was no ordinary cut. Landry lost parts of five teeth, some of which were imbedded in Nowitzki's elbow. Landry ended up getting a root canal; Nowitzki sat out Sunday's victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and he also might miss Tuesday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers because his elbow is still too stiff and painful.

The doctor "was really scared about an infection, so he went back in there for like 30, 40 minutes," Nowitzki said. "I was just watching him with his fingers in my hole in my elbow. He had his whole finger digging in there. That was ugly.

"I took as many pain killers as I've had in a long, long time. … We did consider [surgery] for a second because we didn't really know how many parts were in there floating around."

Nowitzki said he's at the greatest risk of infection for the first 72 hours after the cut, but is hopeful he'll be fine.

"With that situation with your franchise player, you always take a deep breath, swallow hard and pray for the best," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "That's all you can do when you're dealing with Mother Nature. So far, the signs are good. This thing isn't over yet."

The Mavericks are fortunate to have three days off following Tuesday's game against Portland, and they obviously don't want to endure a long stretch without their All-Star forward. Backed by a deep, veteran roster that also includes Jason Kidd(notes), Shawn Marion(notes), Josh Howard(notes), Erick Dampier(notes), Drew Gooden(notes) and Tim Thomas(notes), Dallas owns the Western Conference's second-best record at 20-8. But although the Mavericks did win surprisingly easy without Nowitzki against LeBron James(notes) and the Cavs, it's no secret the franchise's long-term success still lives and dies with its greatest player.

Nowitzki is averaging 26.1 points per game, 8.1 rebounds and owns the fifth-best efficiency rating in the league. The Mavericks have also raved about him playing the best defense of his 12-year career.

James, Kobe Bryant(notes), Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Dwight Howard(notes) are the usual names to surface in any MVP debate this season, but Nowitzki has quietly (as usual) emerged as a legitimate candidate.

"He's 31. People take him for granted," Kidd said. "He can play big, small, however you want it. When you see those numbers, you just assume that he's going to give you that on a nightly basis. His team wins, too. It's unfortunate that he doesn't get a little more exposure."

Said Carlisle: "He leads the NBA in plus-minus productivity, so he has the greatest impact of any player in the entire league in terms of when he is on the court."

James ranked the Mavericks among the league's best teams after losing to them. And Nowitzki believes this is the best supporting cast he's had, even better than the team he took to the 2006 NBA Finals. That, however, hasn't won over some skeptics who believe the Mavericks still need one more quality player to help them seriously challenge the Los Angeles Lakers and contend for a championship.

The Mavericks routed the Lakers 94-80 on Oct. 30, but Pau Gasol(notes) didn't play. And as even Nowitzki admitted, Gasol's addition is what made the Lakers a title team.

"Since I've been here, and this is my 12th season now, this is the most talent that we have on a team from top to bottom, Finals included," Nowitzki said. "The only problem is the rest of the top teams got better, too. We're still all mad at Memphis for just trading Gasol to L.A. We're still mad at [Detroit Pistons president] Joe Dumars for trading [Chauncey] Billups to Denver. It just so happens that the rest of the league and the rest of the Western Conference got better as well.

"I think from top to bottom we're better than any team I've been on here. That's a good thing. We need some luck down the stretch; we have to be injury-free, but I definitely like what everybody brings."

Even if Dallas again comes up short in its quest for a championship, Nowitzki likes the makeup of the franchise enough that he believes he'll be a Maverick for the rest of his career. He could opt out of his contract at the end of the season, but said he hasn't decided whether it's in his best interest to even join the heralded 2010 free-agent class. Much like what Bryant did with the Lakers, Nowitzki could pass on free agency with the intention of signing an extension with the Mavericks.

"I figured I'd play this [season] out and see what my options are," he said. "I really haven't focused on it much. I'm really focusing on this season and we'll see what happens at the end, and I guess it will be more of a quick decision.

"I didn't plan on opting out as of now. But nothing has been done so far. I didn't sign anything. We didn't agree on anything. I've always said that I wanted to finish my career here because I've put so much into it for the last 12 years now that if I just go somewhere and win it somewhere else it won't be the same. That's kind of my attitude. I want to make it work here. Whatever we got to do, I guess, we'll have to do this summer."

Said Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: "He knows pretty much what the plan is, but I'll say, 'Here's our options. How can I help?' "

There is at least one player who could significantly help the Mavericks' quest for a championship: Toronto Raptors forward (and Dallas native) Chris Bosh(notes).

There has been speculation Bosh could be moved before the trade deadline if the Raptors feel they have no way of re-signing the coveted free agent next summer. An NBA source with knowledge of Toronto's plans told Yahoo! Sports that Raptors officials are still hopeful the team will improve enough to convince Bosh to re-sign. That didn't stop Nowitzki from chatting up Bosh when both visited South Africa with the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program.

"I was like, 'So, you coming back to Dallas?' " Nowitzki said. "He just said he doesn't know and everything was so wide open to him.

"I think everything right now is speculation. I don't like speculation. I like to focus on what I got."

That's a wise approach considering one substantial obstacle will make it difficult for the Mavericks to lure Bosh if he hits the free-agent market: money. The Mavericks, who are expected to be over the salary cap, would likely either need to persuade Nowitzki to take less money himself or convince the Raptors to do a sign-and-trade deal.

Still, there are no limits, however, on Cuban's creativity.

"We can be a player," Cuban said in regards to the general free-agent market. "Everybody thinks its all about cap room. But I don't think all the guys that are free agents – they've been in this league long enough – don't want to be on teams involved in a rebuilding process. There's a lot to risk. You want to go to a team where you can compete.

"So it may not be about cap room. It might be about a sign-and-trade. It might be about any other options of different things. We've got a lot of different options."

Their No. 1 option remains the same as it's always been: Keep their current franchise player happy – and healthy.

  • Coyle scores, Wild control game again to beat Avalanche 2-1 and even series at 2

    Coyle scores, Wild control game again to beat Avalanche 2-1 and even series at 2

    ST. PAUL, Minn. - Charlie Coyle scored his third goal of the series for Minnesota, and the Wild dominated the Colorado Avalanche for the second straight game on their way to a 2-1 win Thursday night that evened the first-round matchup at two apiece. … More »

    The Canadian Press - 10 minutes ago
  • Wild even series at 2 with 2-1 win vs. Avalanche

    Wild even series at 2 with 2-1 win vs. Avalanche

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Charlie Coyle scored his third goal of the series for Minnesota, and the Wild dominated the Colorado Avalanche for the second straight game on their way to a 2-1 win Thursday night that evened the first-round matchup at two … More »

    AP - Sports - 10 minutes ago
  • Woman sues Reds pitcher Simon, alleges sex assault

    Woman sues Reds pitcher Simon, alleges sex assault

    A woman who said Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon sexually assaulted her in a Washington hotel a year ago when the team was in town to play the Nationals is suing the player for $15 million. The woman, identified as Jane Doe, filed the civil … More »

    AP - Sports - 11 minutes ago
  • O'Reilly's quick shot beats Kuemper five-hole

    O'Reilly's quick shot beats Kuemper five-hole

    Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly throws a quick shot at the net that gets through the legs of Minnesota Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper to make it 2-1. … More »

    NHL Highlights - 14 minutes ago
  • Postgame: Mike Conley

    Postgame: Mike Conley

    Mike Conley addresses the media following the Game 3 win over the Thunder. … More »

    NBA.com - 26 minutes ago
  • Thunder vs. Grizzlies: Game 3

    Thunder vs. Grizzlies: Game 3

    Mike Conley scores 20 points and grabs five rebounds as the Grizzlies drop OKC in Game 3. … More »

    NBA.com - 26 minutes ago
  • Bruins top Wings in OT, lead series 3-1

    Bruins top Wings in OT, lead series 3-1

    The Boston Bruins took a couple punches, then hit back hard and put the Detroit Red Wings on the brink of elimination. Jarome Iginla scored with 6:28 left in overtime on a redirected shot that went off an opponent, lifting the Bruins to a 3-2 win … More »

    AP - Sports - 31 minutes ago
  • Swimming-Phelps welcomed back by rivals and team mates alike

    Michael Phelps has always been the centre of attention in swimming circles since he burst on to the scene as a teenager and his comeback at the USA Swimming Grand Prix meet had everyone in a lather. The spectators roared when he won his morning … More »

    Reuters - 36 minutes ago
  • Donaldson homers twice, A's rout Astros

    Donaldson homers twice, A's rout Astros

    Josh Donaldson hit a pair of two-run homers to help the Oakland Athletics cruise to a 10-1 win over the Houston Astros on Thursday night. It was the first career multihomer game for Donaldson, who connected in the first inning and pushed the lead … More »

    AP - Sports - 42 minutes ago
  • Grizzlies transcend another crazy Thunder comeback, go up 2-1 with OT win (Video)

    Grizzlies transcend another crazy Thunder comeback, go up 2-1 with OT win (Video)

    For the second game in a row, the Oklahoma City Thunder pushed the Memphis Grizzlies to overtime with a thrilling, improbable comeback spurred by a four-point play. For the second game in a row, the Grizzlies bounced back in the extra period to take … More »

    Ball Don't Lie - 43 minutes ago
  • Postgame: Scott Brooks

    Postgame: Scott Brooks

    Scott Brooks talks with the media following the tough Game 3 loss to the Grizzlies. … More »

    NBA.com - 45 minutes ago
  • Jarome Iginla's OT goal helps Bruins take 3-1 series lead over Red Wings (Video)

    Jarome Iginla's OT goal helps Bruins take 3-1 series lead over Red Wings (Video)

    Jarome Iginla’s goal 13:32 into overtime gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings and a 3-1 series lead. The series now shifts back to TD Garden Saturday afternoon where the Bruins can advance to the second round with a win. … More »

    Puck Daddy - 48 minutes ago
  • Postgame: David Joerger

    Postgame: David Joerger

    David Joerger addresses the media after taking a 2-1 lead in the series against the Thunder. … More »

    NBA.com - 54 minutes ago
  • Toronto Blue Jays fall back to .500 mark after 11-4 loss to Baltimore Orioles

    TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen has struggled mightily over the last week. The Toronto relievers took it on the chin again Thursday as the Baltimore Orioles turned a close game into an 11-4 rout at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays wasted a … More »

    The Canadian Press - 55 minutes ago
  • Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    By Julian Linden PHOENIX (Reuters) - Michael Phelps suffered a narrow loss to his old rival Ryan Lochte in his comeback to competitive swimming on Thursday, but still showed enough to suggest he will be a force to be reckoned with. Racing for the … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 0 minutes ago
  • Nady's single in 12th lifts Padres over Nats 4-3

    Nady's single in 12th lifts Padres over Nats 4-3

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Nationals outfielder Xavier Nady's tiebreaking RBI single off Craig Stammen in the top of the 12th inning, right after an error let the runner get to third base, gave the San Diego Padres a 4-3 victory over Washington on … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 1 minute ago
  • Swimming-Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    * Phelps narrowly beaten by Lochte in comeback race * Satisfied with return despite loss * Qualifies for national titles later this year (Recasts with new quotes) By Julian Linden PHOENIX, April 24 (Reuters) - Michael Phelps suffered a narrow … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 1 minute ago
  • Michael Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    Michael Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    By Julian Linden PHOENIX (Reuters) - Michael Phelps suffered a narrow loss to old rival Ryan Lochte in his comeback to competitive swimming on Thursday, but still showed enough to suggest he will be a force to be reckoned with. Racing for the … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 3 minutes ago
  • Iginla scores OT winner off the redirection

    Iginla scores OT winner off the redirection

    Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla scores the OT winner by redirecting Dougie Hamilton’s shot past Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson. … More »

    NHL Highlights - 1 hour 4 minutes ago
  • Grizzlies beat Thunder in OT, go up 2-1

    Grizzlies beat Thunder in OT, go up 2-1

    Mike Conley scored five of his 20 points in overtime, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-95 Thursday night in taking a 2-1 lead in their first-round Western Conference series. The Grizzlies won their second straight overtime … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 4 minutes ago
  • Solarte has 4 RBIs, Yanks top BoSox 14-5

    Solarte has 4 RBIs, Yanks top BoSox 14-5

    BOSTON (AP) -- Yangervis Solarte drove in four runs, Mark Teixeira hit his first homer of the season and the New York Yankees capitalized on five Boston errors to beat the Red Sox 14-5 on Thursday night. … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 4 minutes ago
  • Icher leads at Swinging Skirts Classic

    Icher leads at Swinging Skirts Classic

    Karine Icher and her caddie husband, Fred, evaluated the conditions and course at challenging Lake Merced and decided on a Day 1 strategy: stay short of the pin and putt uphill. The move worked beautifully, and Icher delivered the most consistent … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 6 minutes ago
  • Crawford for Three

    Crawford for Three

    Jamal Crawford pulls up and sinks the three-pointer. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 7 minutes ago
  • Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings - 04/24/2014

    Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings - 04/24/2014 … More »

    NHL Highlights - 1 hour 7 minutes ago
  • Conley scores 5 of his 20 in OT as Grizzlies blow 17-point lead before beating Thunder 98-95

    Conley scores 5 of his 20 in OT as Grizzlies blow 17-point lead before beating Thunder 98-95

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Mike Conley scored five of his 20 points in overtime, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-95 Thursday night in taking a 2-1 lead in their first-round Western Conference series. The Grizzlies won their second … More »

    The Canadian Press - 1 hour 9 minutes ago
  • Cruz extends RBI streak, Orioles win

    Cruz extends RBI streak, Orioles win

    Adam Jones called Baltimore's lineup ''scary'' after back-to-back double digit outbursts against Toronto. The Blue Jays pitching staff wouldn't disagree with that assessment. Chris Davis had two hits and three RBIs, Jonathan Schoop homered and the … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 13 minutes ago
  • Iginla, Bruins beat Red Wings in overtime to set up elimination game

    Iginla, Bruins beat Red Wings in overtime to set up elimination game

    DETROIT - Jarome Iginla and the Bruins are shipping up to Boston with a chance to eliminate the Detroit Red Wings. Iginla scored the overtime winner on multiple deflections to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings in Game 4 Thursday … More »

    The Canadian Press - 1 hour 14 minutes ago
  • Torey Krug goes top-shelf off faceoff

    Torey Krug goes top-shelf off faceoff

    Boston Bruins defensemen Torey Krug fires a hard slap shot top-shelf past Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson midway through the 2nd period. … More »

    NHL Highlights - 1 hour 14 minutes ago
  • Kronwall fires opening goal through traffic

    Kronwall fires opening goal through traffic

    Detroit Red Wings defensemen Niklas Kronwall unleashes a furious slap shot through traffic to score the opening goal on Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. … More »

    NHL Highlights - 1 hour 14 minutes ago
  • Datsyuk buries it on Rask from in tight

    Datsyuk buries it on Rask from in tight

    Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk takes a short pass from Niklas Kronwall before scoring on Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. … More »

    NHL Highlights - 1 hour 14 minutes ago
  • Rask snatches one away from Tatar

    Rask snatches one away from Tatar

    Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a quick glove save on Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar. … More »

    NHL Highlights - 1 hour 14 minutes ago
  • Rask denies Abdelkader on OT breakaway

    Rask denies Abdelkader on OT breakaway

    Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a great stick save to deny Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader on a breakaway in overtime. … More »

    NHL Highlights - 1 hour 14 minutes ago
  • Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet

    Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet

    Michael Phelps is 0 for 1 in his comeback to the pool. The 22-time Olympic medalist lost to Ryan Lochte in the 100-meter butterfly final at the Arena Grand Prix on Thursday night. Phelps took second in 52.13 in his first meet since retiring after … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 15 minutes ago
  • Texas LB sorry for calling Baylor trash

    Texas linebacker Steve Edmond has apologized for calling the reigning Big 12 champion Baylor Bears ''trash.'' Edmond had made the comment Saturday after the Longhorns wrapped up spring practice with their annual scrimmage. In a statement issued by … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 17 minutes ago
  • Houston's Clemens ejected for plunking A's Lowrie

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Houston reliever Paul Clemens has been ejected in the seventh inning for hitting Oakland's Jed Lowrie with a pitch. … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 19 minutes ago
  • Soderberg sets up Lucic in front of the net

    Soderberg sets up Lucic in front of the net

    Boston Bruins forward Carl Soderberg sends a quick centering pass to Milan Lucic who buries his shot past Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson. … More »

    NHL Highlights - 1 hour 24 minutes ago
  • Buffalo Bills cheerleaders stop appearances after lawsuit over pay, work conditions

    Buffalo Bills cheerleaders stop appearances after lawsuit over pay, work conditions

    BUFFALO, N.Y. - Pack up the pom-poms in Buffalo, because the Bills will be playing without the support of their official cheerleaders this year. Stephanie Mateczun, whose company manages the Buffalo Jills cheerleading squad, said Thursday she has … More »

    The Canadian Press - 1 hour 25 minutes ago
  • Phelps loses to Lochte in 100 butterfly final at comeback meet in Arizona

    Phelps loses to Lochte in 100 butterfly final at comeback meet in Arizona

    MESA, Ariz. - Michael Phelps is 0 for 1 in his comeback to the pool. The 22-time Olympic medallist lost to Ryan Lochte in the 100-meter butterfly final at the Arena Grand Prix on Thursday night. … More »

    The Canadian Press - 1 hour 25 minutes ago
  • Trip Tips: Brazil's beachless metropolis is a foodie's paradise

    By Todd Benson SAO PAULO (Reuters) - If your idea of Brazil is beaches and bikinis, São Paulo is not the place to go. But if you're a seasoned traveler who tends to shun traditional tourism hot spots for urban adventures off the beaten trail, then … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 27 minutes ago
  • Curry to Lee

    Curry to Lee

    Stephen Curry crosses up Chris Paul and whips a pass across the lane to David Lee for the dunk. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 30 minutes ago