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Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012
Knee surgery for Nowitzki
DALLAS — The second makeover of the Dallas Mavericks in as many seasons just got tougher.
Star forward Dirk Nowitzki had arthroscopic surgery on his ailing right knee Friday and the 11-time All-Star isn't expected to resume on-court activities for about six weeks.
Dallas opens the regular season in 11 days at the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's never going to be easy to lose a game-changer for six weeks," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We're going to have to make up for it in other areas."
The 34-year-old Nowitzki has experienced swelling in the knee most of the preseason, twice having the knee drained since training camp started Sept. 29. The knee didn't improve after rest, ice and light conditioning work, leading to the decision to have surgery.
The 2011 NBA Finals MVP played just one preseason game — the opener in his native Germany.
The Mavericks already have the challenge of working five new players into the rotation, and one of them can play Nowitzki's position — 13-year veteran Elton Brand. Vince Carter, another veteran who joined Dallas last season, also could slide into that spot.
The Mavericks were never much of a threat to defend their 2011 title last season after deciding not to bring back several key contributors. On top of the roster shuffling, Nowitzki had conditioning trouble and a sore right knee early in the season and eventually sat four games. He didn't miss any more time after that.
This is likely to be the most extended absence of Nowitzki's career. He's never missed more than nine games in a season.
"I'm sure you're all not expecting us to be good now, so where is the pressure?" Carter said. "Nobody's giving us a chance with or without him, so for us we've just got to play and let the chips fall where they may."
Nowitzki is the franchise's career leader in points and has averaged 22.9 points and 8.3 rebounds in 14 seasons.
Raptors win in Montreal
MONTREAL — Andrea Bargnani bounced back nicely from his latest calf injury.
Bargnani scored 20 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the New York Knicks 107-88 on Friday night in a preseason game at the sold-out Bell Centre.
Bargnani, who was limited to 31 games last season because of calf strains, was back in the Raptors' starting lineup after he bruised his left calf and departed in the third quarter of Toronto's 104-101 victory over Washington on Wednesday.
"Last game that was really just a hit, a hard hit on the calf, so we just decided it wasn't worth it to keep playing limping," Bargnani said. "So I took some therapy but it's nothing like last year."
Toronto won its third in a row to improve to 4-1 and dealt New York its first loss in three exhibition games before a lively crowd of 22,144.
"I want to say one thing about the fans here. I don't know if we can bottle it up and take it back to Toronto, but they were exciting fans, great fans. Packed house, guys on the sideline were yelling at the referees and getting on them, and it felt like we were in an NBA city," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "A great arena, great building, hot building, and it was good for our guys to give them a hard-fought game."
The Raptors outscored New York 30-20 in the third quarter and went up by 12 after Jose Calderon scored on a layup off a turnover 2:27 into the fourth to make it 84-72.
Kyle Lowry finished with 17 points for Toronto and Amir Johnson contributed 14.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 24 points followed by Amare Stoudemire's 18 in his preseason debut after missing New York's first two games because of pain in his left knee.
"It felt great to be back out there, and get back in the swing of things," Stoudemire said. "It was a great feeling."
Landry Fields faced New York for the first time since signing a three-year, $18.7-million offer sheet that the Knicks declined to match.
New York led 26-20 after the first quarter as Toronto got off to yet another slow start. Stoudemire's dunk gave the Knicks a 38-28 lead in the second quarter.