Injured Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki expects to play at some point in December, telling ESPN he might "be a Christmas gift" for the Mavericks.

Nowitzki, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, has been limited to only five games this season due to persistent soreness in his strained right Achilles tendon. He has not played since a Nov. 25 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the Mavs officially saying he is out indefinitely.

"The thing is, I think when I came back it was a little too early and I had a little setback," said Nowitzki, who sat out eight consecutive games before playing in losses to the LA Clippers and Cavaliers and getting shut down again. "Everybody's a little worried about starting it back up too early and then starting back where we were, so we're taking it slow now. But it's been getting better. I've been increasing the workload, and it hasn't been sore.

"Hopefully, I'll be back in action anytime soon. Maybe I'm a Christmas gift."