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Nowitzki, Howard lead Mavericks past Rockets

Jan 17, 2007 - 4:54 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Not even a big night by Tracy McGrady could prevent Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks from continuing to build upon the NBA's best record.

Nowitzki scored 30 points and hauled in 10 rebounds as the Mavericks posted a 109-96 victory over division rival Houston Rockets.

Josh Howard had 28 points and seven rebounds and reserve Devean George added 14 - all in the second half - for Dallas, which overcome a season-high 45 points by McGrady to win its fifth straight game.

With the Mavericks trailing, 81-79, with 10:08 left in the fourth quarter, Nowitzki led Dallas on a 17-4 run to put them up, 96-85, with 6 1/2 minutes remaining. Nowitzki scored nine in the run and Howard added eight, including an 18-foot jumper which put the Mavericks ahead for good, 83-81.

Dallas had also trailed, 65-52, with 7:47 left in the third period after a 3-pointer by McGrady. However, George, who signed with the Mavericks in the offseason, sparked a 15-3 run to give Dallas a 70-68 lead with 3:01 left in the period.

George, who finished with 11 in the quarter, had eight points in the spurt and Howard had five for Dallas, which has won 18 of its last 19 games, upping its record to a league-best 32-8.

George was 4-of-5 from 3-point range and Howard finished 12-of-21 from the field for the Mavericks, who shot 49 percent (41-of-84) and have won 11 straight at home.

Nowitzki was 9-of-19 from the floor and Jerry Stackhouse added 13 points off the bench for Dallas, which outrebounded Houston, 44-32.

McGrady, who had 21 points in the first quarter and 29 at halftime, shot 17-of-29 from the field and also added seven assists for the Rockets, who saw their four-game win streak end.

Juwan Howard had 16 points and Dikembe Mutombo grabbed 10 rebounds for Houston, which shot 45 percent (34-of-75). It was the 40-year center's 11th straight 10-plus rebound effort in place of All-Star Yao Ming, who is still out with a broken bone beneath his knee.

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