Nowitzki was fine physically after taking some anti-inflammatories and getting his ankle taped up before scoring 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting against the Los Angeles Clippers. But he felt miserable after the Mavs’ 119-112 loss, an inexcusable outcome after Dallas built a 13-point lead and L.A. lost All-Star point guard Chris Paul to a separated shoulder midway through the third quarter.
“It’s a game we can’t lose,” Nowitzki said. “Can’t afford to lose that one.”
Nowitzki has had similar takes after a few other losses this season. The Mavs have blown leads of 17 to the Atlanta Hawks, 18 to the Golden State Warriors and 19 to the Toronto Raptors in losses. With the exception of the Atlanta loss, all of those happened at the American Airlines Center.
The sting of this loss led to Nowitzki’s most pessimistic comment of the season, by far.
“The way we let those games slip away, I don’t think we’re a playoff team,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve got to win those games. We’ve got to find a way to get those stops and protect the home court.”