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Mavs win again; Nowitzki leaves with blurred vision

Nov 30, 2006 - 4:05 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Even without Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks had little trouble seeing their way to an 11th straight win.

Although Nowitzki left in the first half with a retina injury, the Mavericks maintained control in a 117-98 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Josh Howard scored a season-high 26 points to lead five players in double figures for Dallas, which never trailed, shot 54 percent (45-of-84) from the field and committed just seven turnovers as it rolled to its sixth straight win over Toronto.

"I watched a little bit of it," Nowitzki said. "It was a great performance. Everybody looked great offensively. They were aggressive and 11 in a row was great."

Nowitzki had six points and six rebounds before leaving the game with 1:46 left in the first quarter, complaining of blurred vision. The German superstar headed to the locker room and was later diagnosed with a bruised retina he said he suffered in Monday's win over Minnesota.

"It's nothing really. It's just a bruise, I guess," Nowitzki said. "I got hit two days ago in the game against Minnesota (and) didn't really have any effects. I finished the game, it was great (Tuesday) and it was great this morning and then, all of a sudden, in the game, things started to get blurry and I couldn't really see anything. I couldn't really focus.

"It's obviously scary. I haven't ever had anything like it. I was a little nervous, didn't really know what was going on. We already got it checked out. It's just a bruised retina. I guess we go from there. I'm clear for activity. I can practice (Thursday) if I want to. I can play the next game so I'm really excited about that."

Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said doesn't expect his 7-foot star to miss any significant action.

"He will be day-to-day," Johnson said. "He had an episode of a bruised retina in the last game. He had some symptoms there. He came back in the first quarter. He is fine and stable and should be ready to go before the next game (Friday)."

When Nowitzki exited, the Mavericks already had built a 34-19 lead fueled by Howard, who scored 12 points in the opening period.

"I think teams really do focus on Dirk and (Jason Terry) and don't realize that there's three other guys out there ... that can score baskets and play defense," Howard said. "It's kind of hard (for the opponent). It's a mismatch from hell."

With Nowitzki off the floor, the Raptors fell behind by 18 points early in the second period before closing to 55-47 just before halftime. A layup by Dallas native Chris Bosh made it 64-59 with 7:41 left in the third quarter before the Mavericks regrouped.

In the final six-plus minutes of the period, Jerry Stackhouse scored seven points and Howard six to help Dallas rebuild the lead to 87-74.

"You come out and the mind is willing but the legs just won't follow," said Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, whose team won in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. "We talked about going into the half getting the lead down to 10, and we did. We just couldn't sustain it. They just jumped on us and kept the pressure."

A 3-pointer by Howard and two buckets by Stackhouse made it 98-78, and the Mavericks led by at least 18 points thereafter.

"Everybody stepped up and played," said Satckhouse, who made 10-of-13 shots. "Dirk had the little situation with his eye. We pride ourselves on being a great team. We always like to have him out there because he presents matchup problems for other teams, but we are very capable no matter who we have on the floor."

Stackhouse scored a season-high 23 points and Terry added 14 for Dallas, which has won 22 straight games against Eastern Conference foes. Erick Dampier had 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Bosh and fellow Texan T.J. Ford scored 18 points for the Raptors, who were beaten on the boards, 48-35. Coming off its first two-game winning streak of the season, Toronto fell to 1-8 on the road.

The Raptors came in with an NBA record streak of 628 games with a 3-pointer dating to February 24, 1999. They missed their first five shots from the arc until reserve Darrick Martin made one at the buzzer. Dallas has a similar current streak of 625 games.

"Those that have been around me know that I was going to shoot that ball at the end of that game," Martin said. "I had overheard, so I knew kind of what was at stake here. I just acted like I wasn't going to shoot it and then was able to fire it up."

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