Mavs Mixed Emotions: Dirk's Back Tonight At Clippers As Christmas Gift

Mavs Mixed Emotions: Christmas Gift Dirk Is Back Tonight At Clippers

Mixed emotions.

That's fair, right?

The Dallas Mavericks are an abysmal 8-21 ... but are 4-4 in their last eight games after hanging on in Portland on the road Wednesday. Wesley Matthews has been good. Deron Williams has healthy, Harrison Barnes is a budding star. Coach Rick Carlisle has stayed the course ...

And now they get Dirk Nowitzki back.

"I'm excited to be back,'' said Dirk, who participated fully in a Thursday workout in LA and will play against the Clippers tonight in a 9:30 road start. "Hopefully I can stay back this time." 

Dirk's missed 14 games with a sore Achilles, but the team says the future Hall-of-Famer is now over that. It won't quite be all-hands-on-deck at LA, as J.J. Barea flew back to Dallas for more diagnostic testing on his calf. But Nowitzki suggested a few days ago that he might unwrap himself as a Christmas gift and here we are. (Mavs-Clippers GameThread here.)

Dirk will be on a strict minute restriction -- "spot minutes,'' they are calling it -- and the Clippers are 22-8, so it's not like Dallas is a good bet to win this one ... which is good news to anyone who believes the Lotto is a better fate for the Mavs than muddling along on The Treadmill of Mediocrity.

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But the Clippers won't have Blake Griffin and Chris Paul has a hamstring problem. So we get Dirk. We get Lotto thoughts. We get a chance for a win, maybe. And most of all, we get Dirk -- the best Mavs stocking-stuffer of all time.

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