90 - 103 Final
  for this game

Howard, Mavs hand Clippers eighth straight loss

Mar 26, 2008 - 4:58 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks passed the first of many tests without Dirk Nowitzki.

Josh Howard scored 32 points and Jerry Stackhouse added 20 as the shorthanded Mavericks coasted to a 103-90 victory over the lowly Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

Erick Dampier controlled the middle with 19 points and 17 rebounds and Jason Kidd contributed 10 points and eight assists as Dallas prepares for a tough stretch without its All-Star.

"Damp was obviously very inspired," Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. "Again, he knows what's going on right now and we need him. We need him to do what he did and not necessarily the numbers but just the effort and manning the middle for us, being aggressive around the basket, and I thought he did that."

In the third quarter of Sunday's 88-81 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Nowitzki suffered a damaging left leg injury that might force him to miss up to three weeks of action.

Nowitzki's injury comes at a terrible time for Dallas, which is just 1 1/2 games ahead of Golden State (43-27) for seventh place in the loaded Western Conference.

The Mavericks will embark on a tough six-game stretch that features road matchups at the Warriors, Nuggets, Lakers, and Suns.

"With Dirk out, some other players have to step up," Dampier said. "We have to look at this as an opportunity. We did a good job defensively and we put the ball in the basket."

Two free throws from Corey Maggette brought the Clippers within 66-64 with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter before the Mavs pulled away for good.

Howard poured in 12 of his 19 points during a game-changing 16-4 run to close out the period for an 82-68 advantage heading into the fourth.

"It was a great game overall for us and for me personally," Howard said. "We were able to weather the storm in the first half and come out in the second half and play a great game."

"Josh was really decisive with all of his moves," Johnson said. "He felt there were some opportunities to drive and get to the basket and the guys did a great job of getting him the ball and spacing the floor."

Howard made a pair from the line and then drilled a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 21 points and also help Dallas improve to 3-0 against the Clippers this season.

"Howard is tough. He had a good night," Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He made shots. He kind of got it going on us. I thought we did a pretty job on him early but then he heated up in that second half."

Maggette carried the load with 21 points before fouling out and Tim Thomas added 13 for Los Angeles, which has dropped eight consecutive games.