Conditioning slowly coming around


DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki has made no secret of his conditioning at the moment not exactly being at peak performance levels.

After Tuesday's preseason loss at Oklahoma City, Nowitzki, who was just 2-of-10 from the field in his first NBA action since Game 6 of the NBA Finals last June, said he's slowly regaining his wind.

"It’s definitely better than what it was two weeks ago when we started camp," Nowitzki said. "I actually wasn’t joking about the amnesty thing two weeks ago. That’s how bad I looked. It’s been some hard work the last two weeks, but I’m still obviously not 100 percent."

Jason Kidd had joked early with Nowitzki earlier in camp that he was so out of shape that that the team was thinking about using the amnesty provision to waive him.

If Nowitzki, arguably the hardest worker on the team, if not the league, is sucking air, what's the condition of the rest of a team that will have a projected starting lineup that averages 34 years old with its top two reserves being 32 and 34?

"We’re making strides and we’ve got to keep working on it," coach Rick Carlisle said. "That’s another one of the differences in the this particular season is that the conditioning thing is not like coming out of a one-month training camp. We’re going to have to be mindful of it and keep working on it."

The other concern entering Sunday's season opener against the Miami Heat is that the Mavs have re-tooled on the fly with six players leaving and five coming in and have had only a condensed training camp to mesh. They have not even seen their starting lineup or any semblance of a real rotation in game action, while the Heat are unchanged other than the additions of Shane Battier and Eddy Curry.

"They’re in a good position because they have virtually their entire team back and they’ve added a couple of guys that are probably going to help them," Carlisle said. "There’ll be some teams in that boat, which is a good place to be, but I don’t know of a game this year that’s going to be an easy game, so there’s no point in kidding ourselves into thinking that any of these are going to be easy, and Christmas Day will be no different."

"For us, the biggest thing is that we’re playing with a great amount of persistence and a great amount of efficiency. That’s going to be the key for us early in the year."

Jason Terry, who along with Delonte West returned to practice Thursday after missing Tuesday's second preseason game with an illness, said none of that will matter when the season tips off at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the American Airlines Center.

"We’re tough. Our core guys are intact and we know how to play," Terry said. "The guys that have been here the longest have set the standard for the new guys and the new guys have fit in fairly well. But, again, not having a lot of time on the court, that’s not going to be an excuse. We’re going to come out and play hard and play Maverick basketball."

In other news:

* Guards Drew Neitzel and Jerome Randle have already been added to the D-League Texas Legends' roster. The Mavs waived both players Thursday. The D-League team retains their rights.