The Mavs lost for the seventh time in nine games without Nowitzki after losing 101-89 to in-state rival San Antonio on Friday. After the latest loss Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said the former MVP and nine-time All-Star, who is recovering from a right knee injury suffered in a win over Oklahoma City on Dec. 27, could make it back tonight but then quickly tempered any expectations.
"Then again, maybe not," Carlisle said, catching himself. "We can't mess with [Nowitzki's health]."
With Dirk on the bench again Friday San Antonio's DeJuan Blair scored a season-high 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, as the Spurs won their 14th consecutive home game over the Mavericks.
Shawn Marion finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas while J.J. Barea and Dominique Jones each added 13 points for the Mavs, who have lost four in a row overall.
The Mavericks were 24-5 with Nowitzki in the lineup and just 1 1/2 games behind the Southwest Division-leading Spurs. Now, Dallas trails San Antonio by seven games.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, salvaged the finale of a three-game road trip in Auburn Hills on Wednesday when Zach Randolph finished with 34 points and 17 rebounds to lead Memphis to a 107-99 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Rudy Gay scored 26 points for the Grizzlies, who snapped a two-game slide. Gay and Randolph were a powerful frontcourt combination for Memphis, making a 20- of-30 shots and 20-of-26 free throws.
"We had a real sense of urgency in the second half, got out in transition and got stops," Randolph said. "Then we started playing in transition and everyone started to contribute."
Dallas has won four of its past five meetings with the Grizzlies. Memphis, however, has won three straight at home.