DALLAS _ Question after question kept flying the Dallas Mavericks' direction this week laced with one common theme.
Everybody wanted to know how the Mavs were going to win a game without their No. 1 scorer and go-to guy, Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs are now 0-2 without Nowitzki, who is listed as day-to-day with a sprained right knee and may not play in Saturday night's game at Milwaukee.
After an 84-76 loss to Toronto and 99-93 loss to San Antonio this past week, the Mavs made all the obligatory remarks about how difficult it was to win those games without Nowitzki. But they've grown tired of giving the impression that they can't win a game without Nowitzki.
"Dirk is our leader, he’s our guy,'' forward Shawn Marion said. "But at the same time, though, we’ve got a big locker room with guys well capable of getting it going.
"It’s just a matter of who gets it going and getting an opportunity, but at the same time we've all got to do it collectively together as a team and keep helping each other and keep building off that, and that’s what it boils down to. When we’re doing that we’re one of the best, we’re still the same.''
Point guard Jason Kidd echoed that same sentiment. Like Marion, Kidd just doesn't want his teammates feeling sorry for themselves because Nowitzki can't play.
Under that premise, the Mavs may already be mentally beaten before they even get to the arena.
"In this locker room we believe we can play with anybody and with whoever puts on a uniform,'' Kidd said. "Again that showed (Thursday against the Spurs).
"Going into the fourth quarter down six, that’s all you can ask for. Again, we just couldn’t make a stop and get a stop when we needed to.''
Donnie Nelson, the president of basketball operations for the Mavs, did reveal what happens to the rest of the Dallas players when Nowitzki doesn't play.
"Everything gets harder because with Dirk he’s one of the best players in the league,'' Nelson said. "And they can lay off guys a little bit.
"It just gums things up for them. It makes everybody jobs harder.’’
But it's a job the Mavs know they can handle. Even without Nowitzki.
-- Dwain Price