Shootaround report: Dirk says knee is 100 percent, working into game shape
Earl K. Sneed reports from the Dallas Mavericks' Thursday morning shootaround in Oklahoma City, where 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki will see his second game action of the season.
Shootaround report: Mavericks (12-16) at Thunder (21-6)
Dirk says knee is 100 percent, working into game shape
Seeing his first game action since the preseason opener in Berlin on Oct. 6, Nowitzki totaled eight points and six rebounds in just 20 minutes of work. Still, even with no setbacks to the knee after his return from arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 19, the 7-footer is well aware that he has an uphill climb to return to his All-Star form.
“My legs were a little heavy and just that little pep is missing,” Nowitzki said Thursday morning as he prepares for his second outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I couldn’t really get up or move around that well out there, so I think we’re going to monitor my minutes for I don’t know how long or until I start feeling better and move better out there. But I thought for the first time in two months it was actually decent. You know, you can do all the up-and-down running you want but you can’t simulate a game situation.
“Just muscles are not really firing as quick as they should. The knee is great. I think the knee is 100 percent,” he added. “The knee is actually better than it was before. We trained lifting hard the last two or three weeks, ran hard and nothing at all. No response from the knee, so obvious that’s great news. So, from here on out, it can only get better. I’m gonna get back in game shape and hopefully get better from game to game and probably increase my minutes as we get along.”
That’s music to the ears of Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle as he tries to integrate Nowitzki back into the rotation on the fly. And after having to feature several different small-ball lineups throughout the early stage of the season, having Nowitzki’s size and length back on the floor for stretches should only prove beneficial for Mavs as they try to bring an end to a three-game losing streak.
“It definitely helps. There’s no substitute for size in this league and the absence of a stretch 4 has been another thing that’s really made it challenging for us offensively. So, having him back for whatever amount of minutes he can play is huge,” Carlisle said of Nowitzki’s return.
He added: “We’ve got to compete hard as a group and guys have got to understand that there’s going to be some unfamiliar lineups out there. But the good thing is we’re putting a guy like Dirk back in that’s going to make it a better situation for everybody on the floor.”
Note: The Mavericks will return to action Thursday night in Oklahoma City, looking to avenge last season’s first-round playoff series sweep at the hands of the Thunder. The game will air nationally at 7 p.m. CT on TNT.