Dirk Nowitzki admits to playing through right knee pain

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Dirk Nowitzki is not himself this season. Oh, he’s still playing at pretty much an All-Star level, but last season he shot 51.7 percent and this season it has fallen to 45.8 percent. The career 37.9 percent shooter from three is hitting just 25 percent. His shooting percentages on shots inside 10 feet have fallen off, too.

This was basically blown off as rust and Nowitzki admitting he came to camp a little out of shape (understandable after a summer of celebrating a title).

But it is more than that — his right knee is bothering him, Nowitzki admitted to ESPNDallas.com.

“I’m having trouble bending my knees,” said Nowitzki, who has been wearing a protective sleeve over the knee, the same one he sprained last season and caused him to miss nine games. “I’ve just got to get my legs stronger, get my base back. I’ve got to use my legs in my shot and hopefully they’ll come back soon….

“It’s OK, better than it was three weeks ago, so that’s very good,” Nowitzki said. “But, it’s still just stiff and I can’t move the way I want to, but it will be OK. I’m going to keep on working, get a stronger base, get my legs strong where they were in June and hopefully I’ll be back to my normal self.”

Dallas is starting to find its groove this season after a slow start. But if they are going to make any serious run in the playoffs, Nowitzki will need to be at his peak. Or better.