Mavericks can't win without Dirk

"They're not necessarily unbelievably athletic and long, but they're smart," Nowitzki said. "What they want to do defensively is take you out of your comfort zone.

"If you like one move, they won't let you get that one move. They usually force you to do something else. They force you to do a 'B' move, not your most comfortable move."

Still, the Mavs had an opportunity to win the game against an opponent that has now beaten them 10 consecutive times.

Dirk has had games of 25 and 22 points against the Spurs this season. The Mavs didn't win those game, but the odds of winning without a strong performance from Dirk are remote.

"I had some decent looks," Nowitzki said. "I just have to shoot better."

He must, or this will be the Mavs' only trip to San Antonio this postseason.

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