DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks got the early scare. Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans ended up with the bigger problem.
Nowitzki shook off a shoulder issue in the first minute to finish with 18 points, but Davis was knocked out of the game with a similar problem and the Mavericks beat the Pelicans 108-89 Wednesday night.
"I'm thinking Dirk's going to be out when he goes out with a shoulder injury and then a few plays later AD gets hit and he's out," said New Orleans coach Monty Williams, who could now be without three of his top four scorers. "Dirk comes back. So, it just hasn't gone our way."
Nowitzki left the court 31 seconds into the game but emerged a short time later and returned to the game. He even had a spin move and finished with a left-handed finger roll in the first half.
"I've had it ever since Karl Malone hacked me in '99," said Nowitzki, who was favoring the shoulder after throwing an alley-oop pass to Sam Dalembert for a layup on the first possession. "The shoulder just sometimes comes in and out a little bit. It's happened a good 20 times already over my career."
Davis, the leading scorer and rebounder for the Pelicans, was holding his sprained left shoulder on his way to play defense and didn't return after leaving the game during a New Orleans timeout with 4:13 left in the first half.
After the game, Williams didn't have an update on the condition of his All-Star big man, who was on the bench during the second half with his left arm in a sling.
"When you play as hard as AD and these guys who go after it every single night, they're going to have bumps and bruises," Williams said. "It could be nothing. It could be a day-to-day thing. We've got to let the doctors do their deal."
The Mavericks (36-23) are a season-high 13 games over .500 after their fourth straight win, and the Pelicans stayed winless since the All-Star break at 0-5.
Eric Gordon led New Orleans with 19 points, and Brian Roberts had 17.
Monta Ellis led Dallas with 23 points, seven assists and four steals, while Vince Carter scored 17.
"Monta has been doing a great job I think picking his spots, attacking when it's there," Nowitzki said. "He's been great for us all season making plays off the dribble and getting in the lane."