Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life without Nowitzki opens with win

DALLAS, March 25 (AP) -- Life without Dirk Nowitzki started quite nicely for the Dallas Mavericks.

Josh Howard scored 32 points, Jerry Stackhouse had 20, Erick Dampier had 19 points and 17 rebounds and Jason Kidd neared a triple-double, lifting the Mavs past the Los Angeles Clippers 103-90 on Tuesday night.

OK, so it was only the Clippers. Still, Dallas needed something to go right after dropping three straight games and losing its leading scorer and rebounder to a sprained ankle and knee. And this kind of team-wide effort could serve as a blueprint for how they hope to make up for Nowitzki's absence down the stretch.

"If everyone goes up four or five points, that'll cover it,'' Howard said.

Howard was an All-Star last season and was the team's top scorer for the early part of this season, but he's been fighting through injuries and learning to play with Kidd. This was easily his best game since the All-Star point guard arrived.

It didn't start that way, with Howard going 2-of-11 and getting to the line only once in the first half. Dampier was the early star, getting 12 points and 12 rebounds over the first two quarters.

"Damp obviously was very inspired,'' coach Avery Johnson said. "We need him to do what he did tonight, not necessarily the numbers but being aggressive going to the basket.''

But in the third quarter Dallas was up only 60-58 and in need of a Nowitzki-like surge. Howard provided it, scoring 20 of the team's next 26 points, putting them up by 16 early in the fourth quarter. The Mavericks stretched it out enough that Johnson emptied the bench in the final few minutes.

Read the rest of this game story and additional coverage at

No comments: