DALLAS (AP) -Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain and a mildly sprained knee.
It's a blow to the Mavericks' title hopes - and perhaps their chances of making the playoffs. The team announced the diagnosis Monday, the day after the reigning MVP was injured during a game against San Antonio.
He is getting around in a protective boot without crutches.
Nowitzki is seventh in the league at 23.6 points per game this season. He's also the team leader in rebounds (8.8) and averaging a career-best 3.6 assists.
The Mavs have lost three straight, continuing a spiral since adding Jason Kidd. They are only 9-8 with the All-Star point guard and hold a half-game lead over Golden State for the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. The Warriors play the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.
The Mavericks have 12 games left, starting Tuesday night at home against the Los Angeles Clippers. They'll play at Denver on Thursday and at Golden State on Sunday.
The Mavericks also need to keep an eye on Denver (42-28), which is closing in on a top-eight seed. The Nuggets play at Memphis on Monday night.
Nowitzki's injury could have international ramifications: Germany is among 12 national teams vying for the three remaining spots in the Olympics. The tournament is in July.
Dallas has won at least 52 games and made the playoffs every season since 2000-01, when Nowitzki became the focal point. He led the club in scoring for the first time that season and has done so every year since, including two years ago when the Mavericks made the NBA finals and last year when they won 67 games.
Dallas is 0-1 without Nowitzki this season, having lost to Houston earlier this month when the German was suspended.
Nowitzki has had ankle problems throughout his career, but he's never missed more than six games in a season. His durability is a big reason why he recently became the leading scorer in team history.
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