Nowitzki: I have to be more aggressive early

Nowitzki: I have to be more aggressive early

Published Jan. 19, 2013 10:40 a.m. ET

Dirk Nowitzki struggled during the first three quarters Friday night, making only one of his first 11 shots. He bounced back in the fourth, though, looking like his old self, burying clutch jumpers and going 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

He added another field goal in overtime but it was not enough as the Oklahoma City Thunder held on for a 117-114 victory at American Airlines Center.

Nowitzki said in the locker room afterward that he needs to work on getting warmed up quicker. The 34-year-old says he was too stiff to start the game.

"I just got to keep on working, keep taking my shots in pregame, and on off-days get my running in," said Nowitzki, who finished with 18 points on 5-of-19 shooting from the floor. "I got to keep on working. I don't know what else to say. I had some great looks there in the first half. It's almost a tragedy that they don't go in."

It's been nearly a month since Nowitzki returned from arthroscopic right knee surgery. To him, that means he's roughly through the amount of time that training camp would have lasted.

"Basically, with me not having training camp, training camp is almost over," Nowitzki said. "Hopefully I can get in rhythm a little better. I feel like I got to be a little more aggressive early in games to get myself going, to get some shots there and just have a little more pep in my step in the first half so I don't always start 1-for-5, 1-for-6 and then keep chasing some shots."

Nowitzki admitted that when he first came back from surgery he was waiving teammates off late in games because he felt like he was just a spot-up shooter. The 11-time All-Star says he doesn't feel that way any more.

"Now I'm getting to the point where I definitely want to feel the ball," he said. "At least make the defense collapse and kick it out or make a move. I think compared to where I was two or three weeks ago it's way, way better. It's miles-and-miles better, but I still feel like I got some ways to go."

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