Dirk Nowitzki continued to rehab his right knee on Wednesday afternoon. He participated in practice, rode on the stationary bike and did running drills to continue building stamina. "I had a good rhythm 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." Additionally, Nowitzki worked on face-up low post moves and elevating for multiple dunks to help regain the lift that he had before the injury. The results have not mirrored the ones he had before the injury but Nowitzki believes he can get back into that rhythm.
Coach Rick Carlisle mentioned that Nowitzki was playing amazing basketball leading up to the injury. "During that period of time, he was the MVP (of the league) in my opinion," Carlisle said. "His value to us -- he’s priceless to us."
Carlisle understands that Nowitzki is going through a lot with his rehab. "The injury is a tricky thing because it takes time to get back and then once you get back on the floor, you’ve got to get through the conditioning aspect of it and then the conditioning of the actual injury," Carlisle said, "That’s been a 8-9 day process and we feel like we’re getting close to being back with him physically and mentally where he was."
Nowitzki had a teammate that stayed around well beyond practice; Peja Stojakovic. "The stroke is there," Nowitzki said of 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."
For many, it was the first look at Peja Stojakovic on the practice floor and he looked pretty good for a player that has not seen game action in several weeks. The jump-shot looked solid as ever. "He’ll be able to shoot when he’s 100 years old," Carlisle said. The 6'10" forward worked extensively on offensive half-court sets alongside Brian Cardinal, Ian Mahinmi, Dominique Jones and Roddy Beaubois (who ran the point guard position). Stojakovic moved around rather well on the court. There was not an explosive first step but in a practice setting, he looked solid. "We want to make sure there's no flare-up with the knee issue. So far it's very good," Carlisle said. "He's going to make progress pretty quickly we believe, but we've just got to make sure that we're going at the right pace." Stojakovic's status for Thursday's game against the Houston Rockets is "Very Doubtful" according to Rick Carlisle.
The Mavericks are saying that patience is necessary in regards to both players. It remains to be seen when Stojakovic will see game action and when Nowitzki will be back to 100%. One thing is for sure, the Mavericks have the potential of having a fierce and versatile front-line if both players are on the court together.
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