Dirk Nowitzki Is Dallas Mavericks' Early Christmas Present vs. San Antonio Spurs

Tom HorowitzContributor IIIDecember 23, 2012

Dec 23, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) takes a shot over Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) during the first half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk Nowitzki's return to the Dallas Mavericks was a surprisingly early Christmas present, but the Mavs still got blown out by the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night, 129-91.

In his season debut, Dirk showed few ill effects from arthroscopic knee surgery.  He came off the bench midway through the first quarter and scored his first points in emphatic fashion.

Dirk scored eight points on 3-of-4 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes of action. 

He scored five of those points in a span of less than a minute on vintage Dirk jumpers.

Check out the video from :55 - 1:10. 

Dirk's seven first-half points in 14 minutes kept the Mavs within striking distance.  However, he only played six minutes in the second half as the Spurs put on a shooting clinic.

In front of their home fans, the Spurs nailed an outrageous 20-of-30 three-point shots.  Danny Green was the main culprit, canning an astounding 7-of-8 trifectas.

The Mavericks defense was non-existent.  They weren't much better offensively, but O.J. Mayo worked a couple of pick-and-rolls with Dirk.  When they get up to speed together, Dallas could have a dynamic duo reminiscent of Jason Terry's days with Dirk.

Mayo had his third straight subpar game with only seven points.  However, he has carried a heavy burden without Dirk and should be back to form after the Christmas break.

Darren Collison came off the bench and led Dallas with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.  With Derek Fisher's departure, this was another good sign.  Collison figures to play most of the point guard minutes, even if Dominique Jones starts again in the near term.

The road gets no easier for Dallas.  They travel to face the Oklahoma City Thunder December 27 and return home the next night against the Denver Nuggets.

Dirk and the Mavericks should be much sharper by the time they host the Spurs December 30.  Dallas has now lost four straight games at San Antonio, but the Mavs will be gunning for their third straight win at the American Airlines Center against their bitter rivals.