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Howard's 23 points help Mavericks cruise past Trail Blazers

Dec 1, 2007 - 5:31 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Josh Howard and the Dallas Mavericks continued to mistreat a Western Conference foe - the Portland Trail Blazers.

Howard scored 23 points and grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds as the Mavericks cruised past the Trail Blazers, 91-80, on Friday.

Jason Terry scored 17 points and Devin Harris had 14 and seven assists for Dallas, which has won two in a row following a season-high three-game losing streak.

"We really won't know what this team is like until probably after All-Star break," Terry said. "But until then, the guys that are playing and healthy have to come out and compete hard every night and do the best we can do with what we have."

The Mavericks also continued their domination of the Trail Blazers, winning for the 14th time in 15 games vs. Portland, including nine straight here.

Dallas hadn't lost to Portland since December 23, 2003 until the Blazers captured their first win in the series in nearly four years with a 91-82 victory on November 10.

Portland is now 0-8 away from home this season.

"It's tough," Trail Blazers swingman Brandon Roy said. "We lost tonight and now we've got to go to San Antonio. We've just got to continue to be competitive. I thought we put ourselves in somewhat of a position to win tonight but we made some mental mistakes down the stretch."

Howard, who connected on 8-of-15 from the floor and collected his second double-double of the season, scored 14 points in the first half to help Dallas take a 44-36 halftime lead.

"We had some good practices before this game, and it carried over," Howard said. "I give a lot of credit to (Erick) Dampier because he was out there doing a lot of communicating on offense. For our bigs to do that helps us out a lot."

The fourth-year forward, who also went 7-of-7 from the free-throw line, scored six in the third as the Mavericks increased their advantage to 76-59, heading into the final period.

"Josh was going pretty good for us," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We tried to go to him a little bit more and he got fouled a couple of times and went to the line. He made aggressive moves, and that's what we want him to continue to do. I'm much more excited about Josh's defense."

"We gave up 44 points in the half against the Mavericks who can score in bunches, then we give up 32 in the third," Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "The third quarter the last two games, for whatever reason, we're not getting stops and not scoring."

Dallas, which made 14-of-19 field goals in the third, shot 45 percent (37-of-82) overall.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points and hauled in 12 boards for Portland, which shot 43 percent (32-of-74) and has lost 12 straight on the road dating to last season.

"LaMarcus did a good job for us tonight establishing our inside game," McMillan said. "We got looks, we've just got to knock down shots."

Steve Blake scored 12 points and handed out five assists for the Trail Blazers, who reduced their deficit to 86-80 with 1:49 left before the Mavericks extended out to their winning margin.

"We kind of let down and that's really something we shouldn't do," Howard said. "We got comfortable with our lead and they made some shots, but we were able to hold them off."

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