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Sports

Nowitzki, Mavs happy to fly under the radar as NBA season starts

German basketball superstar Dirk Nowitzki and his Dallas Mavericks have got off to the perfect start to the new NBA campaign. This came after they failed to win a single game in preseason.

The Mavericks surprised many on Wednesday by tipping off their NBA season with a 111-95 win over the Suns in Phoenix.

Nowitzki was one of eight Mavs who hit double figures in the match, collecting 11 points and nine rebounds. After the game, the German said the fact that most pundits have expressed low expectations for his team this season worked as a bit of an incentive.

"Of course we saw that on one website, they picked us as the team that would finish in last place in the West," the 37-year-old Nowitzki said. "That was motivation enough for us." He also didn't seem to mind being cast as an underdog.

"It is not a bad thing for us to be flying under the radar, since we have so many new faces," he said.

Head coach Rick Carlisle praised what he described as an impressive team effort. "I think that's a card we can play this season," he said.

Pleiss spends evening on the bench

While Nowitzki had a successful start to his 18th season in Dallas,

Tibor Pleiss will have to wait for at least another game

to get his NBA career started. The 25-year-old German national team player was in the line-up for the Utah Jazz but did not see any action, watching as his new team dropped a 92-87 decision to the Detroit Pistons.

Another German national team member,

Dennis Schröder,

may sympathize, as his Atlanta Hawks also lost to the Pistons in their first game of the season on Tuesday. Schröder was, however, the Hawks' top scorer with 20 points and four assists.

pfd/ (SID, dpa)

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