After what he describes as a "rough start'' to this season personally, Dirk Nowitzki has gotten his groove back in a very big way.

Nowitzki was in such a rut earlier this year that he took four games off from Jan. 21-27 to rest his sore right knee. The results: The 13-year veteran was able to make his 11th consecutive All-Star appearance while proving to his critics that he still can play at a very high level.

Part of the reason for Nowitzki's slow start is because the NBA lockout dragged on and on, and seemingly had no end. Then, by the time the owners and the union agreed on a deal in the wee hours of Nov. 26, numerous players were woefully out of shape once the two-week training camp started.

"Like I said, everything got pushed back, not knowing what's going to happen with the lockout,'' Nowitzki said. "Then I came here and my legs weren't as strong as they needed to be, I battled some swelling there for probably the first month or six weeks.