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News » Plenty of Dirk, not much else Nowitzki's 34 points can't offset lousy shooting, leaky defense

Plenty of Dirk, not much else Nowitzki's 34 points can't offset lousy shooting, leaky defense

Plenty of Dirk, not much else Nowitzki's 34 points can't offset lousy shooting, leaky defense Rick Carlisle turned 50 on Tuesday, and Dirk Nowitzki was the only Maverick who bothered to get his coach a decent present.

He gift-wrapped a monster game in the season opener with 34 points and nine rebounds, but other than that, the birthday was pretty much a bummer.

The Washington Wizards rolled out of town with a 102-91 victory at American Airlines Center, spoiling the debut of Shawn Marion and Drew Gooden, and conjuring up memories of last year's dreadful Mavericks start.

Gilbert Arenas, coming back from a serious knee injury, whacked the Mavericks with 29 points and nine assists. The Wizards also got 20 points from Andray Blatche and 19 from Randy Foye, both off the bench, as they led virtually throughout against the Mavericks , who seemed a step slow all night.

"It was a zero," said Jason Kidd. "We didn't do anything right."

Well, almost nothing. Nowitzki had a huge game, but his mostly unhelpful teammates couldn't support him. The Mavericks are supposed to have good depth, shoot the ball well and be good rebounders.

They had none of that working for them.

"Dirk was going well offensively," Kidd said. "The big thing is we can't rely on him to do that for 82 games or he'll be dead before Christmas."

Nowitzki started the game shooting 3-of-13 but hit seven of his last 12.

Defensively, the Mavericks were incapable of stopping Arenas or the athletic Wizards big men - Blatche and Brendan Haywood, who had 10 rebounds to go with seven points.

"The problem, I felt, was our second-quarter defense," Carlisle said. "When they got 35 points in that quarter ... it deflated us to a certain degree. It's disappointing. It's one of those nights when we weren't shooting well and you have to hang in there with your defense. And we weren't able to do it."

That's the same refrain the Mavericks had last season, when they had a horrid record when shooting under 45 percent. And their 39.5 percent effort Tuesday night left no margin for error defensively.

Sooner return for Howard? Mavericks owner Mark Cuban clarified comments by Carlisle that Howard was "weeks away" from returning. Cuban said he didn't want fans to get the impression that it was three weeks or longer.

"And, based on the report I heard today, it's not going to be a few weeks for Josh," Cuban said. "I think it could be as few as two weeks."

Why not the Mavs? It might have been coach-speak, but Washington's Flip Saunders sounded genuine in his belief that the Mavericks are legitimate threats in the West.

"No one talks about them, but the addition of Shawn [Marion] has really added to them," Saunders said. "If they don't get any major injuries and they get Josh back, then there is no reason they can't compete with the Lakers and San Antonio."

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Added: October 29, 2009


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