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Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Dirk knows: Patience with Peja's shot

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- Jason Kidd said this about Peja Stojakovic: "He might be our best foreign shooter on the team. Dirk might not agree with that. He might also agree with it."

Dirk Nowitzki did agree. But he also cautioned, speaking from the experience of his ongoing struggle to regain his shot after a three-week injury layoff, not to expect Stojakovic to start lighting it immediately upon stepping foot on the court. Stojakovic has not played since Nov. 26 because of a left knee issue. He is not expected to play Thursday against the Houston Rockets, but Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks hasn't been ruled out.

"The stroke is there," Nowitzki said of his the Yugoslavian-born Stojakovic. "I just shot with him. He beat me every single time. But it’s not only the stroke. In a game, the hardest thing when you’re out for a while -- I’m going through it right now -- it’s the up and down, it’s the explosiveness, the defense, the moving. I think that’s the hard thing. He can always stand there and make shots probably when you wake him up at three in the morning, but it’s all the things in the game that he has to get back to and he’s going to work hard and hopefully be back soon."

Stojakovic is a 40.1-percent career shooter from beyond the arc and ranks fifth all-time in the league in 3-pointers made with 1,718, just one behind Dale Ellis and 14 behind Kidd for third place. However, Stojakovic has played in just eight games this season. He didn't go through a full a practice Wednesday and whenever he does suit up, Nowitzki said patience is key regarding early results.

Nowitzki knows. In his six games back from a right knee sprain, Nowitzki's stroke is there, but the results are not. He's made 36-of-94 shots for 38.3 percent, well below his career average of 47.5 percent and miles from the torrid 54.5 percent he was shooting through 29 games before suffering the injury on Dec. 27.

He's made 50 percent of his shots in just one of the past six games. He was 6-of-15 Tuesday night against the Clippers and didn't record his first basket until around the 2:09 mark of the second quarter. His scoring average is down about five points from the 24.1 points he averaged pre-injury.

"I had a good rhyhtm there before I got hurt and now it's just about working my way back there, getting my stamina up, getting my legs back under me on the shot," Nowitzki said. "I don't feel like I have a lot of lift right now. Just keep on working, do a little extra stuff after practice, do some explosive stuff and hopefully I'll be back here soon."