The time is drawing closer for Dirk Nowitzki to be in the Mavericks' starting lineup. It probably won't happen Saturday when New Orleans visits American Airlines Center, but you never know. Most certainly, it's getting closer on the horizon after Nowitzki knocked in 19 points in under 30 minutes against Miami Wednesday night. "I've worked extremely hard the last couple weeks," Nowitzki said afterward. "I'm going to keep working and hopefully, I'll start again maybe here in a week or so and get my minutes up again." Nowitzki said the timing on when to start will be a decision that he and coach Rick Carlisle make together, with input from the medical staff, obviously. Against the Heat, Nowitzki was tough to stop and he hit the 15-foot fadeaway jumper that forced overtime with 3.9 seconds left. It was a shot he's made thousands of times, but the first time he's had to do it since coming back from knee surgery. "That's where I've made my living over 15 years, on the elbow, and I was able to get a clean shot up," he said. By the way, Nowitzki is more encouraged than discouraged by the Mavericks as they try to escape the funk of losing seven of their last eight games. "I said it all through the losing streak, that we're not as talented as some of these good teams, but we got to make up for it by playing hard and competing," he said. "But I like our chances when we're competing. O.J. is a heck of a player and Kaman is finding a rhythm. I like what we're doing, we just got to keep on working."