Dirk Nowitzki made a surprising season debut a week ago, but the Dallas Mavericks have been unable to get things going while their star forward works himself into shape.
The Mavs aim to snap a season-long losing streak on Sunday evening against the team Nowitzki made his 2012-13 debut against, the streaking San Antonio Spurs.
Nowitzki missed the season's first 27 games due to knee surgery before finally suiting up last Sunday versus the Spurs. He came off the bench and logged 20 minutes of work in a 129-91 setback.
The 34-year-old scored eight points against the Spurs and then got some rest before Dallas' next game on Thursday in Oklahoma City. Again in a relief role, Nowitzki had nine points and six boards in 26 1/2 minutes of a 111-105 overtime defeat.
The 7-footer's shooting struggles continued on Friday as he scored just five points on 2-of-10 from the floor, logging 18 minutes as a reserve in a 106-85 home setback to the Denver Nuggets.
In his three games, Nowitzki has hit just 8-of-25 from the floor, including 3- of-8 from 3-point range.
"I was a step slow. That was obvious," Nowitzki said following the loss to the Nuggets. "I had no lift in my jumper. Everything was in and out. That last little thing is still missing. ... These are my first games in a long, long time. So it's ugly. I've got to keep fighting, keep working hard in practice days and eventually I'll be able to come back."
O.J. Mayo scored 15 points to lead the Mavericks, who have lost a season-high five in a row and eight of their last nine games. Darren Collison, Vince Carter and Brandan Wright scored 10 points apiece in defeat.
"It's just small things add up right now. Little mistakes," noted Nowitzki. "It's just the way this tough stretch has been going, turning little mistakes into big mistakes and the other team capitalizes on it. That kind of sums up this stretch."
Dallas will need to solve its shooting issues on Sunday as it takes on a San Antonio club that hit a franchise-record 20 3-point shots in last Sunday's win. Danny Green led the way with a career high-tying seven 3-pointers on the way to a personal-best 25 points.
The home win was the Spurs' sixth in their last eight overall meetings with the Mavericks, but they have lost five of their last seven in Dallas.
Green and company was again solid from behind the arc on Friday against the Houston Rockets, hitting on 12-of-24 from long range in a 122-116 triumph.
Green and Manu Ginobili each hit five 3-point shots and Ginobili ended with a season-high 23 points.
Tony Parker added 31 points, 10 assists and five rebounds, while Tim Duncan came up with 30 points.
"They were unbelievable tonight," Ginobili said of Duncan and Parker. "I had a nice stretch early in the third quarter but those guys have been great all season so I kind of joined in on the scoring today. The main thing is that we beat another great team that has been rolling."
San Antonio completed a perfect 4-0 homestand and has won all eight of its games as the host this month. The Spurs will try tonight to win a season-high fifth straight game for the third time this season.