- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Dallas Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki returned to the lineup Monday in a 112-91 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder after missing the previous two games with a strained right thigh muscle.
Nowitzki finished with 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
After missing the first 27 games while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, Nowitzki struggled, by his standards, while working his way back into game shape.
He came into Monday's game averaging 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 42.5 percent from the floor, all numbers that are the 11-time All-Star's lowest since his rookie season in 1998-99.
However, the 34-year-old Nowitzki had been encouraged by the progress he had made recently before this injury, which is not related to his knee. He injured the right adductor, a muscle in the inner thigh, late in Tuesday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, when he had 12 of his season-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Nowitzki acknowledged he's concerned the muscle pull, the first of his 15-year career, could disrupt his recent progress.
"It stinks, no question about it," Nowitzki said. "But I'm past the stage of crying or whatever. You've got to just fight through it and take the punches as they come and roll with it. Obviously, it was bad timing."
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