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Wind, not knee, bigger issue for Dirk

1/20/2011

DALLAS -- Over the past few days, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle consistently said that it's time for the club to pick up Dirk Nowitzki and not the other way around. That finally happened in Wednesday's 109-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in which Nowitzki was the team's fourth-leading scorer.

Try to find how many times that's happened in a victory over Dirk's career.

"That was an unbelievable win," Nowitzki said. "It didn't look good there in the first half, they had a 10, 12-point lead, but we had an amazing stretch there. I thought the end of the third, guys were just getting hot. Jet [Jason Terry] was amazing, Trix [Shawn Marion] was great, really defending, running around, getting layups. J-Kidd [Jason Kidd] was amazing, hitting 3s, hitting pull-ups off the dribble. Great team effort. Tyson [Chandler] battled. [Sasha] Pavlovic came through. The team really picked me up. I didn't have much going."

In just his third game back from a sprained right knee, Nowitzki logged 37 minutes, his high mark since returning. He got off to a slow start and never really got his shot going in a rapid-fire and emotionally charged game that tested his conditioning after the nine-game layoff. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting, but happy to get out with a win that snapped the longest losing skid in more than a decade.

As for Dirk's knee, the 7-footer said his off night had nothing to do with his knee, which continues to feel better.

"I felt a little flat after three weeks of not playing. The knee is actually fine," Nowitzki said. "I did some good moves that I actually I wasn’t able to do the first two games so that is encouraging. It’s getting better and better as I’m playing so that so that’s really encouraging. The knee didn’t hold me back at all. My wind was gone there a little bit, but it’s going to take some time. Two-and-a-half weeks is a long time in this game, so I just have to work myself back and play back into it."

His conditioning will be put to the test with tonight's second game of a back-to-back at Chicago (7 p.m.).