Wednesday , Dec , 10 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

Nowitzki expected to return tonight

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – The Dallas Mavericks are expected to have
star forward Dirk Nowitzki back in the lineup tonight when the team kicks off
a two-game stretch at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Dallas will close the LA trip on Friday against the Lakers.

Nowitzki has missed his team’s last five games with a badly sprained right
ankle he sustained in a November 26 loss to the Phoenix Suns. He suffered the
injury as he fell to the floor after being called for a charging foul.

“We noticed a lot of improvement from one day to the next,” coach Don Nelson
told the Dallas Morning News. “It’s amazing how, with these young athletes,
you can see the fatigue one day and the lack of it the next. The feeling is
he’ll probably play [Wednesday against the Clippers]. And if he’s able to
play, I’ll start him.”

The 25-year-old German has averaged 19.2 points-per-game in 15 games this
season, to go along with 7.3 rebounds a contest.

Elsewhere on the injury front, Nelson said the availability of Josh Howard
will be determined at game time. Howard has been fighting a sprained ankle but
has said he expects to be available.