As Dirk Nowitzki’s playing time increases as he comes back from an Achilles injury, the greatest player to put on a Dallas Mavericks uniform says “it’s getting better.”
Nowitzki played 28 minutes in Thursday night’s home loss to Phoenix. It was the most minutes he has played since returning from the injury and the third most this season. It was his 11th game of the year, sixth in the past seven.
“It’s getting better. Legs are still heavy in the second half, but been working toward the right thing, working toward feeling better out there,” he said.
The Mavericks (11-25) host Atlanta on Saturday night at American Airlines Center.
In five games during this stretch, Nowitzki has scored in double figures, and his minutes have gone up the past three outings.
“Go from day one to the next, need to be patient,” he said. “It’s hard in the beginning, but it’s a lot better than the first time I came back so just have to keep plugging and keep working.”
Over his 19-year career, Nowitzki has been one of the top players when it comes to plus/minus, but in the past four losses, he’s combined for a minus-57. Nowitzki and coach Rick Carlisle say it’s too early to judge.
“It’s too early to judge any of that stuff,” Carlisle said. “I can remember last year people were saying Chandler Parsons was struggling statistically and I said ‘Hey, don’t judge until after the All-Star break’ and that may be what we’re looking here at him.”
Nowitzki had a team-worst minus-13 on Thursday night.
“Hope it doesn’t take that long,” he said. “Slowly getting the minutes up and responding well.”
Added Carlisle, “It’s a long road, but the good thing is he’s moving better and obviously feeling good.”
The Mavericks placed waivers on guard Pierre Jackson. He averaged 3.0 points, 1.8 assists and 7.1 minutes in his four games with Dallas.