Dallas franchise icon Dirk Nowitzki will make his 2018-19 home debut Saturday.
The essential question: How long will the standing ovation last when he first enters the game?
Nowitzki played six minutes in his first game since undergoing offseason ankle surgery in Phoenix on Thursday, and this will mark his initial appearance of the season in the city that he energized while leading the Mavericks to the 2010-11 NBA title.
"I respect the hell out of out of him for what he has done to get himself back on the floor," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Mavericks (15-12) will bring an 11-game home winning streak into the meeting with Sacramento at the American Airlines Center on Sunday. They have won 12 of 16 despite a 99-89 loss to the Suns on Thursday.
The Kings (15-13) are on a similar run, having won five of seven after losing to Golden State on Friday, a game in which they led by 10 points with just more than three minutes remaining.
Nowitzki, 40, made NBA history Thursday when he became the first player to log 21 seasons with the same franchise, breaking a tie with the Lakers' Kobe Bryant. Nowitzki also tied Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Willis and Robert Parish for the league record by playing 21 seasons. Carter is the only other of that group still active.
Nowitzki is seventh in the NBA in career scoring, and he averaged 21.6 points or more in 12 consecutive seasons beginning in 2000-01. He trails No. 6 Wilt Chamberlain by 230 points on the career list.
"It was good to be out there, even if it was just for a short stint," Nowitzki said.
"Obviously I have a lot of work to do, timing-wise, conditioning-wise. I've been running on the treadmill but it's just not the same as playing NBA speed against 20-year-old athletes."
Nowitzki averaged career-lows with 12.0 points in 24.7 minutes per game last season, and at least in the short term is expected to be used off the bench behind a starting frontcourt of center DeAndre Jordan, and forwards Harrison Barnes and Luka Doncic.
"It's still a thrill to compete and go out there," Nowitzki said, "(and) the team is playing well. It's still a rush. Hopefully I'll get in better shape as we go and I'm able to help the team a little more. As you get older you obviously gain experience. You lose a few steps here and there and you try to make up for it with experience ... you see things quicker than you did in your 20s.
"You know more about the game but obviously you are a few steps slower which is frustrating at times, when you see something and you want to make a move and your body doesn't respond the right way on certain nights. But it's all part of it, part of getting older."
Nowitzki made one of two field goal attempts and had a rebound against the Suns, who limited Dallas to 39.7 percent shooting.
Barnes led the Mavs with 15 points, Jordan had 14, and Doncic and Jalen Brunson had 13 apiece. Point guard Dennis Smith Jr. returned after missing four games with a sprained right wrist and four points, eight rebounds and five turnovers.
The Mavs made 5-of-33 from 3-point range, and Barnes' 3-pointer with 11.6 remaining enabled them to extend their franchise-record streak of making at least five threes to 209 straight regular-season games.
The Kings made a season-high 19 3-pointers in their 141-130 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday before going 15-for-44 from distance against the Warriors.
Buddy Hield had 27 points and five threes, De'Aaron Fox had 25 points and nine assists and Willie Cauley-Stein had 22 points and 11 rebounds against the Warriors. Hield had five points including a three and Cauley-Stein made two free throws for a 123-113 lead before Golden State responded.
"We're going to have to start guarding," Kings coach Dave Joerger said. "We cannot allow people to go passed us, passed us, passed us on the perimeter. Guys have to get better at it, guarding the basketball one-on-one."
"We struggle in the half-court to score. We do. That's why we have to keep attacking ... and playing as fast as possible."
The Kings lost No. 1 draft pick Marvin Bagley Jr. to a bone bruise in left knee early in the second quarter against Golden State, and he reportedly will be reevaluated in 10-to-14 days. Bagley is averaging 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in 23.1 minutes off the bench.