Dirk Nowitzki has twisted and sprained his ankles dozens of times. But what happened Sunday night in Portland was different.

He said he came down funny after jumping for a rebound in the second quarter. The ankle stiffened up at halftime, when he had it re-taped. He was ineffective in the third quarter, then sat out the entire fourth quarter.

The Mavericks limped to the finish line for a 96-91 win. They were ahead by 26 late in the third quarter and by 20 at the start of the fourth.

“I said at the start of the fourth it’s a little stiff, and I decided to just sit this one,” Nowitzki said. “Obviously, it got a lot closer than we were hoping for so we had to grind it out down the stretch. I think I jumped for a rebound in the second quarter and must have landed wrong or something. I must have irritated my bone spurs.

“I got really stiff and couldn’t really move much in the third quarter. I tried, got it retaped at halftime, but it didn’t help much. I said I’m going to sit this one out and the boys will bring it home. It was a lot closer than we hoped, but we got it done.”

Nowitzki said he “definitely” will play Wednesday.

“I could probably play tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll get some of those good meds. I’ll be fine. We only got five games left, we got a chance to see .500 for the first time since December. I’ll definitely play Wednesday.”

What happened on Sunday should have been a carefree stroll to the win. The Mavericks led by 26 points with under 2 minutes left in the third quarter. They ended up struggling to stop Portland’s Will Barton down the stretch as the rookie finished with a season best 22 points and 13 rebounds.

But the Mavericks made enough shots and enough plays not to repeat their January visit to Portland, when they blew a 21-point lead and lost.

The Mavericks were taking care of business very well in the first three quarters against the Blazers. They got a huge night from Chris Kaman, who finished with a season-best 26 points and 11 rebounds. He missed his career-high scoring mark by three points.