The good news for the Utah Jazz is that Dallas big man Dirk Nowitzki won’t be around tonight when they open the 2012-13 season against the Mavericks at EnergySolutions Arena.
The bad news is, the Mavs are coming off a big win Tuesday night, where they knocked off the Western Conference-favorite L.A. Lakers at Staples Center.
Nowitzki, a former MVP and an 11-time All-Star, is out recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and won’t be available for another six weeks or so. Even without him in their lineup, the Mavs took down the new-look Lakers 99-91.
Guard Darren Collison had 17 points, four assists and three steals for Dallas. Teammate Elton Brand started at power forward and finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
Jazz players coming out of Wednesday morning’s shootaround said it will be strange not seeing Nowitzki on the floor.
“Dirk is such a game-changing player that he makes you pay special attention to him when he’s in the game,” Jazzman Gordon Hayward said. “They have a lot of plays they do for him but they still have players that can come in do pretty much the same type of stuff, obviously not to the same degree as Dirk.”
In 51 career games vs. the Jazz, Nowitzki has averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Last time he visited Salt Lake City, in April last season, the 34-year-old German scored 40 points and had nine rebounds in an overtime loss to the Jazz.
The Jazz will open the 2012-13 season tonight, beginning at 7 p.m., at EnergySolutions Arena.
Utah’s projected starting lineup is: Mo Williams at point guard; Hayward at shooting guard; Marvin Williams at small forward; Paul Millsap at power forward and Jefferson at center.
The Mavs will starts Collison at the point, O.J. Mayo at shooting guard; Shawn Marion at small forward; Brand at power forward and Brandan Wright at center.