"When Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle cautioned reporters two weeks ago not to judge Dirk Nowitzki's post-knee-surgery play until at least mid-January, his intention wasn't to set a hard-and-fast deadline.
Today is January 15, though, which is as good of time as any for a progress report.
"Not bad," Nowitzki said Monday night, after scoring 10 points during the Mavericks' 113-98 victory over Minnesota at American Airlines Center. "When I started December 23, it was rough, my wind was not there and my movement was not there.
"I think I've been working. So I've gotten better over the last three weeks, just trying to help in pick and roll coverages."
Dirk Nowitzki, 11-time NBA All-Star, relegated to a defensive role? Of course not.
The positive news is that Nowitzki says he doesn't feel any pain or discomfort. He doesn't appear to be favoring his surgically repaired right leg, but at times he doesn't appear to have the same leg-lift on his jump shots than before the surgery. Of course, Nowitzki's wisecrack response to that observation would be that he didn't have much lift in the first place.
Still, it's hard to ignore the fact that 34-year old Nowitzki is averaging only 13.3 points and shooting 42-percent since his return. He has yet to score more than 20 points. It was strange watching him play 33 minutes Monday night and score only 10 points _ including just four in the first half, on 2-of-6 shooting.