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Howard, Terry helps Mavericks ambush Nuggets

Dec 10, 2006 - 4:24 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks are getting used to this sort of showing from Josh Howard. They would like to see more of this from Jason Terry.

Howard scored a career-high 30 points in three quarters and Terry continued to emerge from a slump with 24 as the Mavericks clamped down on the Denver Nuggets in a 105-90 victory.

Dirk Nowitzki had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Mavericks, who shot 49 percent (41-of-83) from the field and used their customary quick start to ambush the Nuggets, who began a five-game road trip with another loss in "Big D."

In Dallas' last five wins, Howard had averaged 10.6 points in the first quarter while shooting 69 percent from the field. On Saturday, he scored nine points in the opening period, helping the Mavericks establish a season high in racing to a 41-25 lead.

Howard added 11 points in the second quarter and nine in the third period as he tied his career high set February 17, 2005, at Phoenix. He made 11-of-24 shots, including three 3-pointers.

"Just taking the shots that were given to me, just being aggressive throughout the whole game, my teammates finding me like they always do," said Howard, who also had 11 rebounds and two blocks. "They have confidence in me to get the shot or go to the basket."

While Howard has become a mainstay, Terry's troubles with his shot were becoming a concern. The normally reliable guard had made just 22-of-65 shots over six games before snapping out of it by making 7-of-13 from the floor in Thursday's loss to Detroit.

"I did not like the way Jason Terry was playing, so I went back and looked at a bunch of games on what we had done here in the past with him," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We tried to get him back in that comfort zone again."

"That's something Avery discussed with me a little bit, just trying to put the ball in my hands a little bit more," Terry said. "I was comfortable with it, no pressure at all. I went out and made plays. Avery is a great manager of the game and he's great at making adjustments. He knows when something's not quite the way he wants it. If it's not, he's not scared to make an adjustment. That was just something he looked at, saw and brought to my attention and I'm riding with him, whatever he says."

Terry retained his rhythm against the Nuggets, making 11-of-19 shots, including 2-of-3 from the arc. He was instrumental in the first quarter, scoring 14 points.

"We need it. It's been shown now that if we get off to a good start, it's hard for teams to come back and recover from it," said Terry, who also had six assists. "So it's something we've got to stay focused on and continue to do."

Howard also drew the defensive assignment on NBA leading scorer Carmelo Anthony and did a terrific job. With help from Devean George, he limited Anthony to a miserable 8-of-26 performance and 18 points, his second-lowest total of the season.

"Josh did a great job on Carmelo," George said. "He gave him different looks. He didn't let him feel his body. He used his quickness and did a good job of keeping Carmelo guessing where he was coming from."

"They made it tough for me tonight," Anthony said. "Shots I normally make, I didn't make. I'm not going to put my head down about it."

Nuggets coach George Karl had a different perspective.

"I don't think we got as many calls," said Karl, whose team shot 28 free throws to 22 by Dallas. "Melo averages nine to 10 free throws a game, and he shoots 25 times tonight and gets two. He got hacked a lot more than that and that's sometimes what happens on the road."

Denver has lost 17 of its last 18 visits to Dallas.

Two 3-pointers by Terry jump-started a 28-11 surge that capped the first quarter. Terry had eight points in the run and Howard and Nowitzki added seven each.

"Jason had the ball in his hands," Johnson said. "He was in a situation where he was not playing off the ball too much tonight. He played off the ball some, but Jet needs the ball."

Howard's big second quarter pushed the lead to 62-41 at halftime. His 3-pointer nudged the lead to 22 points early in the third period, and Dallas led by double digits thereafter.

Erick Dampier had eight points and nine rebounds for the Mavericks, who held a 51-41 advantage on the glass. Dallas played without injured reserves Jerry Stackhouse and Austin Croshere.

J.R. Smith scored 18 points and Marcus Camby added 13 and 11 boards for Denver.

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