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Howard powers Magic to 97-82 win over Mavericks

Apr 2, 2010 - 3:59 AM DALLAS(AP) -- Dwight Howard regularly dominates in the paint for the Orlando Magic. The X-factor for the Magic is their 3-point shooting.

Howard had 17 points, 20 rebounds and five blocked shots, and his teammates converted 14 of 24 attempts from 3-point range as the Magic atoned for an earlier loss to Dallas with a 97-82 victory over the Mavericks on Thursday night.

Reserve Mickael Pietrus had a season-high 24 points, making all six of his 3-point attempts, and Vince Carter added 19 points to help Orlando win for the 14th time in 16 games.

"We know how good we are," said Jameer Nelson, who scored 14 points. "We're not cocky or overconfident or anything, but we know we can beat anybody when we play our game. We played great defensively, pushed the ball and got good shots when we needed to."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points to lead the Mavericks, whose three-game winning streak ended. Jason Terry and J.J. Barea had 16 points apiece in reserve roles for Dallas.

Nowitzki's fellow starters - Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler and Jason Kidd - combined for only 20 points.

Howard's shot-blocking helped limit the Mavericks to 31-for-81 shooting, and Dallas made only 4 of 14 from beyond the arc.

"Coach puts a lot on me to be the backbone of the defense and I just try to do my best erasing mistakes, but also give my teammates confidence that if they lock down their man, if they make a mistake and let their man drive, I'll be there," Howard said.

The Mavericks were 95-85 winners at Orlando on Feb. 19 in the only other meeting between the league powers this season. The Magic, who lead the NBA in 3-pointers made and attempted, connected on only 4 of 25 from beyond the arc in that loss.

"We got the same looks, we just moved the ball and shot with confidence," Carter said. "Some nights it's going to be like that."

Orlando's long-range shooters got off to a fast start, hitting 4 of their first 7 from 3-point territory.

"The thing that killed us were the 3s," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "The last few times we've played them, we made a real effort to run 'em off the line and they missed shots they normally make."

Nowitzki scored 12 third-quarter points, but the rest of the Mavericks could manage only eight more as Orlando raced to a 72-56 lead entering the final quarter.

Dallas pulled to 91-82 on Barea's layup with 1:14 left, but the Mavericks couldn't get any closer.

"It was a frustrating night," Marion said. "We couldn't get over the hump. We'd get within striking distance and they'd hit a 3."

The Magic went 8 for 13 from long range in the first half to build a 43-36 lead at the break. Pietrus gave the Magic a lift in the second, scoring 13 of his team's first 14 points in the quarter.

"In the first half, that (3-pointers) was the only shot we could make," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said.

The Mavericks had one of their poorest offensive first halves of the season, threatening their season low of 33 before hitting a pair of baskets over the final 1:12 of the half.

The Mavericks might have been a little weary after a 106-102 overtime victory in Memphis on Wednesday night, while the Magic had been off since Sunday's 103-97 home win over Denver.

"(The Mavericks) missed some shots they would normally make, didn't have legs, things like that," Van Gundy said.

NOTES: Pietrus was back in the rotation after sitting out three of the previous five games because of a sprained left ankle. ... Dallas shot 35 percent in the first half and went 1 for 9 from 3-point range. ... Only six of Orlando's 14 first-half field goals were two-point baskets. ... Barea missed the previous two games because of a sore left ankle. ... The Magic had lost 11 of their previous 14 meetings with Dallas. ... Howard had his 40th career game with 20 or more rebounds.

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