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Mavericks hold off Timberwolves to win 10th straight

Nov 28, 2006 - 4:34 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki and company are looking unstoppable.

Nowitzki and Josh Howard scored 15 points each and Erick Dampier had a key block down the stretch as the Mavericks won their 10th straight game, a 93-87 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jerry Stackhouse scored 14 points and Dampier and Jason Terry added 12 apiece for Dallas, which extended the league's longest winning streak this season.

"It's one game at a time," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We still have a lot of work to do no matter what the record is and no matter who the opponent is. I am glad that we have a chance to get back and practice tomorrow because we haven't practiced in a couple of days.

"The team needed some energy and we are glad they had energy tonight because we needed all of it."

Dallas, the defending Western Conference champion, started the season 0-4 - its worst start in franchise history - before reeling off its current streak. The Mavericks are a half-game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the lead in the Southwest Division.

The Mavericks built a 22-point lead with 3:33 left in the third quarter before the Timberwolves made a furious comeback in the final period.

Rookie Randy Foye, who scored a season-high 17 points, tallied 11 of those in the final period as Minnesota climbed within 88-87 with 23 seconds left on Mark Blount's first career 3-pointer.

"It was a fight from the whole team, one through 12, to come back and try and make a run at them, but they're a really good team and they deserve to win 10 in a row," Foye said.

"The fourth quarter was not very good," Johnson said. "They put a zone on us and we did not execute. Some of our shots were highly contested, but we missed some wide-open ones, too."

After Terry made one of two free throws to put the Mavericks up by two, Minnesota's Ricky Davis drove to the basket, but his shot was blocked by the 6-11, 265-pound Dampier with 15 seconds left.

"I saw him (Davis) driving the lane the whole night getting those floaters around the basket," Dampier said. "I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. He (Davis) tried to get it up off the backboard, but I was able to get the block."

"That was huge the way Dampier got that big block for us," Johnson said. "He was pretty active all night."

Howard and Nowitzki each made two free throws apiece to send Minnesota to its first loss in four games.

Kevin Garnett scored 19 points and hauled in 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which fell to 2-5 on the road this season. It was Garnett's 20th straight double-double against Dallas.

"We're not going to play perfect, but we continue to play," Garnett said. "Randy got us back in the game with some marvelous moves. He came in and was aggressive right off the jump.

"I had the assignment of guarding the best shooter in the league and I controlled Dirk, but Dampier and some of those other guys in the supporting cast had a good game. We gave ourselves a chance but we started slow."

Howard, who was making just his second start since missing eight games with a sprained left ankle vs. Golden State on November 6, scored nine points in the first quarter to help Dallas take a 33-22 lead.

"It was a really good feeling especially being out as long as I was with the injury," Howard said. "It feels great to be back around the team and be around them. It's been a good feeling for me, and my shots are starting to fall."

"We dug ourselves too big of a hole," Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said. "You give a team 33 points like Dallas had in the first quarter, you can't survive. We had no quit and that's something that I'm proud of our team. But we can't dig ourselves a hole and expect to come back night in and night out like that."

It was the 11th straight game the Mavericks have had a double-digit lead in a contest.

"Tonight we got off to another good start," Johnson said. "We scored 33 points in the first quarter while they scored 23. We came back out after halftime and had a pretty good third quarter, going up by 20."

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