The Dallas Mavericks played their 54th game Tuesday night and Dirk Nowitzki’s 37-year-old legs feel it. He’s ready to head into the NBA’s new extended All-Star break that won’t put the Mavs back on the floor until Feb. 19. He’s feeling the effects of having “paid for it,” meaning the long break with 18 games in January and a stretch that included 19 games in 32 days. “This is definitely the longest break that I’ve ever seen in my 18 years,” Nowitzki said after Tuesday’s 121-119 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz. “We paid for it here in January, early February, with the schedule, I’ve never seen anything like it, whatever, 18, 19 games in January and then coming out in February with five games in seven nights, so it’s been a beast, so we earned a few days off.”
Orlando still has 13 games remaining against the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference: Cleveland (one), Toronto (one), Atlanta (two), Boston (one), Miami (three), Chicago (one), Detroit (two) and Indiana (two). Against the West’s top eight, the Magic still have six games to play: Golden State (two), San Antonio (one), Memphis (one) and Dallas (two). “We have to come play because those aren’t the kind of teams that you will play down to the competition and do well,’’ said Magic forward Tobias Harris, who expects to play on Sunday despite need seven stitches to close a gash above his left eye. “They’re all top teams for a reason. They execute their stuff and they run their stuff good and we have to be really sharp and on our game for all these games coming up. We’ve already seen it in the games with San Antonio and OKC. For us to be at that level we have to play at that level also.’’
The Oklahoma City Thunder will visit the capital of Spain next October to play against Real Madrid at the Barclaycard Center. The game, which is one of the NBA Global Games 2016 tour games that the Thunder will play this fall, will be played during the first week of October.