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Terry provides spark off the bench as Mavs edge Rockets

Nov 6, 2007 - 6:28 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Jason Terry may not be in the starting lineup anymore, but he still knows how to put the ball in the basket.

Terry scored 31 points and Josh Howard chipped in 21 as the Dallas Mavericks handed the Houston Rockets their first loss of the season, 107-98, on Monday night.

After starting 80 games last season, coach Avery Johnson decided to put fourth-year guard Devin Harris into the starting lineup and save Terry's offensive output for the second unit.

Terry is averaging 22.7 points through four games this season. The 6-2 speedster connected on 11-of-17 shots and handed out five assists.

"We are surprised when he misses, kind of spoiled these days," Johnson said. "He just gave us a huge spark. Jet is really playing some good basketball for us. He just had that look in his eyes and his shot really."

In the fourth quarter, superstar Tracy McGrady made a pair of free throws to help Houston grab an 88-86 advantage with 6:15 left. The 6-8 swingman was named Western Conference Player of the Week earlier.

However, the Mavericks responded with an aggressive 15-4 run, capped by Dirk Nowitzki's shot from the arc that bounced high off the back of the rim before going in at the 2:56 mark for a 101-92 edge.

"I thought we came down and executed there," Terry said. "When we got stops we came down and either executed or we got a good look in transition. Against a good half-court defensive team you want to get out and get early, easy baskets. I found Dirk for a three there. It was a good look. We ran a half-court set and got him a good look for another jumper and he kind of sealed the deal."

Nowitzki finished with 19 points on 7-of-20 shots and DeSagana Diop registered 10 and 13 rebounds for the Mavericks, who shot 46 percent (36-of-77).

"I think we got some stops and that always helps," Nowitzki said. "(Trenton) Hassell and Josh did a good job on McGrady down the stretch and made it hard for him. We tried to keep Yao (Ming) out of the lane and we pushed the ball and got some open looks. That's what got us 67 wins last year, getting stops when we needed to, getting out on the break and finishing on the other end. "

Nowitzki and Howard had to sit some of the third quarter when they were both called for their fourth foul while trying to guard McGrady.

"Without those guys out there, I have to be more aggressive and assertive with taking my shots and looking for openings," Terry said. "We were getting turnovers, getting stops and that was allowing me to create some early offense. It was falling for me."

McGrady had 35 points and eight assists and Yao Ming contributed 21, 11 boards and two blocks for Houston, which shot 42 percent (37-of-88) and scored 20 fast-break points.

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