Dallas Mavericks: Rick Carlisle accepts "blame" if Dirk Nowitzki not involved early

The Dallas Mavericks are quite aware what they have in future Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki. However, when even an inkling is presented that Dirk may not be being utilized to his fullest potential, one Maverick in particular wants the questions directed at him.

Dirk Nowitzki started the Dallas Mavericks' 108-101 road victory in Utah on Wednesday as the unquestioned centerpiece of the offense--taking four shots in the Dallas Mavericks' first six possessions (and making three.)

Speaking with Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com, Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle made it abundantly clear that Nowitzki's early surge was part of the plan: “We want to get him touching the ball early in the game in every game...If it doesn’t happen, I blame myself for it."

Rick Carlisle's philosophy won't garner many detractors, either from within the Dallas Mavericks or from the fan base. Nowitzki went on to put on a simply spectacular effort for the rest of the contest against the Jazz--finishing with 31 points on 12-of-14 shooting.

The game held added significance for the Dallas Mavericks' 12-time NBA All-Star, as he passed Boston Celtics legend John Havlicek (26,395 points) for 12th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

As of this writing, Nowitzki (26,426 points) is just 520 points behind Hakeem Olajuwon (9th all-time with 26,946 points) for the most points scored ever by a foreign-born NBA player.

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