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Nowitzki, Howard help Mavericks crush Timberwolves

Jan 7, 2008 - 12:13 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks had no trouble beating one of the NBA's worst teams this time around.

Nowitzki scored 30 points and Josh Howard added 22 as the Mavericks routed the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, 101-78, on Sunday.

Dallas was pushed to the limit by woeful the Miami Heat (8-25) on Friday before Devin Harris stole an inbounds pass and found Howard for a game-clinching layup with two seconds left in a 94-89 win.

But the Mavericks, who have won 11 of their last 13 games, made sure early that there would be no such struggles against the NBA's worst team.

"It was really important that we didn't play to the level of our competition," Howard said. "That's something we need to do every game."

"We opened the game focused and we stayed pretty focused throughout," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "One of the toughest things to do in this league is to keep a big lead. We protected our lead for the most part and were able to spread out some minutes, which was really good."

Nowitzki shot 6-of-11 through two quarters as Dallas built a 58-35 lead after 24 minutes.

Al Jefferson collected 16 and 11 rebounds for Minnesota (4-29), which has lost eight straight for the first time since December 2-17, 1999, and is off to the worst start in franchise history.

"We came out flat, again, for the second game in a row," Minnesota coach Randy Wittmann said. "We were almost sleep-walking at the beginning and a team like Dallas is going to jump all over you (when you do that).

The Mavericks, who shot 46 percent (38-of-62), led 83-58 after three periods and expanded the lead to 27 at 90-63 with 8:40 to play.

Jason Terry scored 14 points off the bench for Dallas, which has won seven straight against Minnesota.

"We're playing a lot more efficient on both ends of the floor," Terry said. "We need to continue to be consistent in that area. Paying attention to the details and having a focus about ourselves, that's what you're seeing in the last few games. We've really (been) locking in on our opponent."

Meanwhile, Rashad McCants followed up his career-high 34 points on Friday with 21 in this one.

"We're going to change a lot of stuff (with this team)," Wittmann said. "For those of you that have dogs, you'll know what I mean here - you can only kick a dog so much before he bites you."

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