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3-pointer: Dirk Nowitzki 'definitely was better'

There were glimpses of the big German that Mavs fans have known and loved for an era.

Dirk Nowitzki scored in double digits for the first time in his five games this season. No need to get too worked up about an 11-point performance from Dirk, who has averaged more than double that during his Hall of Fame career, but there’s no doubt his outing in the New Year’s Day win over the woeful Wizards represented progress.

Nowitzki, who averaged an unsightly 7.5 points on 32.4 percent shooting in his first four games after the two-month layoff, hit five of seven shot from the floor in 17 minutes against the Wizards. He particularly looked like the good ol' Dirk when he knocked down a one-legged 16-foot leanaway and stepped into a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.

“Today definitely was better,” Nowitzki told reporters. “I was shooting the ball well in warmups. I felt like I had a little more spring than last week. At least it’s working in the right direction, so that’s a good thing.”

Yet Nowitzki is quick to note that he still has a long way to go to regain his All-Star form.

That’s why Nowitzki, who readily admits he didn’t help much in the portion of the six-game losing streak that he played, does extra work on practice days and has gotten some running in after games in which he played low minutes. His surgically repaired right knee feels fine, but he has to work to get his legs back.

“Now I’ve just got to get a little explosiveness back, keep working, keep running, keep playing off the guys,” Nowitzki said. “Hopefully, in a couple of games or a couple of weeks, I’ll be back to my old self.”

Once that happens, Nowitzki believes the Mavs can cause some problems and perhaps push for a playoff bid.

“I definitely feel like once I get my legs back and get the groove that we can beat some people,” Nowitzki said.

A few more notes from the Mavs six-game-skid-snapping win:

1. Vintage Vinsanity: A decade ago, this night would have been the norm for Vince Carter. But the 35-year-old version of Vinsanity doesn’t score 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting too often.

Carter went Half Man, Half Amazing on his first and last buckets of the night: high-flying dunks off of drives.

“That was fun to watch, and we definitely needed every bit of it,” Nowitzki said of Carter’s performance. “We didn’t have shootaround this morning. We just had a light stretch. Maybe that helped his old legs. But he looked great from the first play of the game.”

2. Collison keeps it going: Darren Collison has put up some pretty nice numbers since becoming the Mavs’ starting point guard again.

In five games since getting the starting job back, Collison has 18.0 points on 54.4 percent shooting and 5.2 assists. He had by far his worst shooting night in that stretch against the Wizards, going 4-of-13 from the floor, but Collison contributed to the win with 15 points, eight assists and only one turnover. The Mavs were plus-19 in Collison’s 39 minutes.

3. No TOs for O.J.: O.J. Mayo’s zero turnovers might have been the most surprising, encouraging stat of the night for the Mavs.

Mayo averaged 5.1 turnovers in previous 10 games, when the Mavs went 1-9. This was only the second no-turnover night of the season for Mayo, who had 15 points and five assists while making six of 10 shots from the floor, his best plus-50-percent shooting night since the Mavs’ last win.