Dirk Nowitzki cleared his first major hurdle in returning to the court when he participated in practice for the first time all season:
Breaking: Dirk Nowitzki practiced full contact for the first time today.— Earl K. Sneed (@EKS_MavsNBA) December 19, 2012
The 11-time All-Star has missed the first two months of the NBA season after undergoing precautionary knee surgery in training camp due to swelling and soreness in his right knee. He was originally expected to miss only six weeks, but the Mavs have been very cautious with his rehabilitation process.
There's still no timetable as to when he can actually begin playing, but he's not expected to be back in the line-up until at least after New Year's.
Dallas has struggled to stay afloat without their franchise player, with a 12-13 record and a -1.4 point differential so far in 2012. It's the team's worst start since the 1999-2000 season, the last year they missed the playoffs and Dirk's second season in the NBA.