On this frigid Friday in the Twin Cities, following the Mavericks’ morning shootaround, Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki had a heart-to-heart that would have been difficult for most coaches and most NBA stars.
The topic: A significant change in the way Nowitzki will and won’t be utilized, including games in which he will play in only one half or not at all.
This development will jolt many Mavericks fans. And it would test most coach-player marriages, but this is Carlisle and Nowitzki. They’ve been together 11 years. They won an NBA championship together.
“We talked about it and handled it like grown men,” Nowitzki told The News. “Just keeping open communication. No hurt feelings. Just play it by ear and see how the games are going, see how the flow is going.”
Nowitzki had four rebounds in 13 scoreless minutes as the Mavericks pulled out a 119-115 victory over Minnesota on Friday night, behind Luka Doncic’s 29 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and go-ahead 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.