Dirk Nowitzki's Suspension may Prove to be Beneficial

Waleed ErshadCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2008

The Dallas Mavericks got news about three hours before their game against the Clippers that Dirk Nowitzki would not be playing.

Nowitzki is averaging 37.6 mpg, 25.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 2.5 APG.  With him gone, someone had to make up for that.

The Dallas Mavericks did just that against the Clippers.  They held Los Angeles to 38 percent shooting and pounded the Clippers 53-38 on the boards.

Now granted, the Clippers were missing some of their key players such as Zach Randolph, Chris Kaman, and Ricky Davis.  But this was still a quality win for the Mavs concerning how they did against the depleted Jazz.

Dirk's absence may have been beneficiary for a couple reasons:

Josh Howard Stepping Up To The Challenge

Lately, Josh Howard had been struggling to figure out his role on the team. Returning from his injury, he saw Jason Terry take his spot as the No. 2 option and the team having success with it.  He knew he had to come back and contribute in other ways.

Against the Clippers he dropped 29 points, snatched nine boards, and seven assists. We know he can score and jack up shots. We also know he can rebound the ball relatively well for his position. But now we know he has the ability to dish the ball.

Jason Kidd hinted this in his comment, "I thought what was big for Josh today was that he found the open guy and made all the right plays," Kidd said. "It was a big game mentally that he could get under his belt. It showed him he doesn't always have to shoot it."  The seven assists were a career best which surprised me.

Maybe this will get Josh Howard back on track.

Jason Terry Having a Less Than Spectacular Game

If you told me Dirk was out for a game and Jason Terry only had 12 points on five of 17 shooting in his absence, I would be expecting a loss.  The Jet has been downright amazing this year, but him struggling tonight may have been a positive.  It allowed Josh Howard to run the offense and get himself on track and also made way for other guys to step up such as the following...

James Singleton and Others Showing Up To Play

James Singleton has been working his butt off in practice according to Rick Carlisle and Rick's rewarding him for it. The past couple of games he has been a real positive sight.  He replaced Dirk Nowitzki in the starting line up and scored 11 points on five of nine shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.

Brandon Bass also helped out with nine rebounds and 14 points, but on three of 13 shooting.  But he attempted nine free throws and made eight of them.

JJ Barea also chipped in 17 points along with four assists and four rebounds, continuing his spectacular year.

This win will give the other players some confidence.  Hopefully, when Dirk returns the Mavericks can start a little winning streak.