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Barea lifts Mavericks over lowly Kings

Nov 4, 2007 - 3:56 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Jose Juan Barea gave the Dallas Mavericks an unexpected jolt on Saturday night.

Barea scored 25 points, including a barrage of 3-pointers, as the Mavericks routed the lowly Sacramento Kings, 123-102, in their home opener Saturday night.

In his return from a two-game suspension, Josh Howard scored 27 points and reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki added 24 for Dallas , which bounced back from a disappointing loss to the young Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

"It's just another game," Howard said. "You know how I approach games. I play hard every game. It's just great to be back for the season. After taking the four-month break off, I'm just ready to go."

Barea was starting in place of the injured Devin Harris, who left Friday's game with a left thigh contusion after running into Hawks forward Josh Smith midway through the third quarter.

An undrafted guard out of Northeastern, Barea was making just his second career start. He spent most of last season as a little-used reserve, averaging just 7.0 points.

"I just came out trying to attack the paint, like coach wants me to do," Barea said. "Attack the paint as much as I can and, sometimes I would score and sometimes I was making the pass. It worked out fine. I think I set the tempo."

Nowitzki, the team's leader, was the most complimentary of his teammate.

"(Barea's) improved a lot since his first year," Nowitzki said. "I think he learned a lot last year. That rookie season, it's always hard, but he had a great summer league, which is always good.

"He's been great. He's been getting to the basket, working on his jump shot. He can penetrate and dish. Every time he comes in, it's like a breath of fresh air. He's been playing great."

This season, however, Mavericks coach Avery Johnson decided to use star guard Jason Terry as a spark off the bench, opening up a slot in the starting five for Barea, who shot 9-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-4 from the arc.

"Oh yeah, it worked out fine," Barea said. "He gave me the opportunity, and I took advantage of it. I think he's proud of me right now. I'm just happy, just happy."

Ironically, Howard returned from his suspension against the team which baited him into a preseason scuffle - leading to his penalty.

He shot 10-of-17 from the field, including 1-of-4 from the arc, on Saturday.

"It really doesn't matter," Howard said. "We've got so many guys who can fill it up. As long as I stay consistent with my game and play whenever my team needs me."

The Mavericks took command of the contest in the third, taking a 89-67 lead - their largest of the game - on Terry's two free throws at 5:31.

Dallas never trailed and opened the game with a 14-4 run that was capped by Nowitzki's tip-in at the 7:18 mark of the opening period. The All-Star forward had six points and Howard added four in the spurt.

"I'd like to thank J.J. (Barea) for getting us off to a quick start," Howard said. "He came in and replaced Devin and did a great job leading the team."

Kevin Martin scored 28 points and John Salmon added 27 for the Kings, who continued to play without point guard Mike Bibby (thumb) and forward Ron Artest (suspension).

"We know the cavalry is coming," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "We know that we're going to be a different team by the middle of the season. Somehow, someway we got to find out a way to win a few games in the process.

"And we've got to compete. Regardless of who's on the floor, you've got to compete every night. There's certain effort-based things that can't change. We just have to find a way to put together 48 minutes."

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    anorexicivan Added 5 roots

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