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Dirk Nowitzki practices with starters for first time

Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki is inching closer to a return to the starting lineup.


Dirk Nowitzki has been sidelined the first 27 games of the season while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Since returning to the lineup, Nowitzki has come off the bench over the last six games, but he is getting closer to returning to his regular role.

On Friday, Nowitzki practiced with the starters for the first time this year, and there is the possibility that he could be in the starting lineup this Sunday when the Dallas Mavericks take on the New Orleans Hornets.

After practice on Friday, Nowitzki said that the topic of starting on Saturday did not come up, and a decision on the matter could come on game day.

Nowitzki also mentioned that it did not matter if he was in the starting lineup or not, but he did go on to say that he has started to feel much better on the court:

"I felt like the best I've felt out there," said Nowitzki. "I don't think the wind is a big deal, or wasn't the last couple of games. It's more the legs and the explosiveness and the push-off and switching directions. So that was the major problem I thought the last 10 days I've been back."

"That was the best I've felt, in Miami. So I've got to keep on working, hopefully get 100 percent here sometime soon."

Once Nowitzki's stamina return to an acceptable leve, the plan is for him to be in the starting lineup. If Nowitzki is not in the starting lineup on Saturday, it will likely happen shortly after.

In his six games this season, Nowitzki has averaged 10 points while playing 22 minutes per game.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.