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Nowitzki, Howard dazzle as Mavs spoil Wallace's return

Mar 13, 2008 - 4:45 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points and Josh Howard added 20 of his 24 before halftime as the Dallas Mavericks rolled in Wednesday's 118-93 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.

Brandon Bass and Jason Terry combined for 26 points off the bench for Dallas (42-23), which pulled within one-half game of the idle Phoenix Suns (42-22) for sixth place in the West standings.

Wednesday's loss was bitter-sweet for Charlotte, which had its franchise-best five-game winning streak stopped but did have Gerald Wallace back in the rotation after missing the previous eight games with a Grade-3 concussion.

Wallace, who suffered the injury against the Sacramento Kings on February 22, scored 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting in 22:10 off the bench.

"I felt pretty good," Wallace said. "In the first half, I was kind of tired, and I felt like I was rushing my shots and everything. My legs weren't the way I wanted them when I drove to the basket, but I figured I at least needed to push myself to get past that. In the second half, I felt a whole lot better, so I think I did pretty good considering my situation."

"I thought Gerald did a good job of getting on the floor and knocking down some shots and trying to get his legs and his timing," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said.

With the Bobcats trailing by eight after one quarter, the Mavs turned up the pressure in the second as Bass netted 10 points during an aggressive 15-5 burst to make it 51-33 at the 6:54 mark.

"We're just out there having fun; it's amazing when we're out there having fun the things that we can do as a team," Dallas center Erick Dampier said. "We just have got to go out there each and every night with a consistent effort and do the things that we work on in practice.

"When we're moving the ball, running up and down the floor and having fun, we can play with anyone in this league."

Howard's 3-pointer at the end of the quarter helped Dallas grab a 67-45 advantage into intermission, while Charlotte connected on just seven field goals in the period.

"I've needed to get out on the break and run a lot more," said Howard, who had just 20 points combined in his previous two games. "I've kind of found my rhythm again here lately and I'm feeling more comfortable."

The Bobcats (24-40) were never able to recover as they watched another chance to move up in the Eastern Conference standings go to waste - falling 2 1/2 games behind New Jersey (27-38) for the eighth and final spot.

"I think (Wednesday) was especially one of those games we felt like we had a chance to win, but Dallas is a great team and they just came in and then took advantage of us," Wallace said. "Once, we got in that hole it was hard for us to fight back."

Raymond Felton collected 21 points and three steals and Jason Richardson struggled with 11 points for the Bobcats, who fell to 0-8 all-time in the series.

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