for this game

Dirk-less Mavericks roll past Clippers

Dec 28, 2008 - 11:43 PM By John Reger PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Even without Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks were too much for the Los Angeles Clippers as they rolled to a 98-76 rout on Sunday afternoon.

Josh Howard picked up the slack for the All-Star, collecting 29 points, nine boards and seven assists for the Mavericks, who never trailed. It was the third consecutive game - and fifth time this season - that the Clippers have not had a lead at any point in the game.

"We had to do a lot of things by committee with Dirk out," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "Everybody was working together trying to find a way. It was a quality win for us."

Nowitzki was serving a one-game suspension for committing a flagrant-2 foul in the fourth quarter of Friday's loss to the Utah Jazz, as he hit Utah forward Matt Harpring in the mouth in frustration. He was ejected from the game, but didn't receive word of the suspension until Sunday morning.

"I'm just out here trying to help my team win," Howard said. "Whatever I'm going to do, I'm going to do it. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the Utah game, but we came together as a team and played a lot tighter."

The Mavericks didn't miss him. Howard had 15 points before halftime to carry the load and Dallas got contributions from everywhere, including a combined 31 points from reserves Jose Juan Barea and Brandon Bass.

"We just had to change the game a little bit more," said James Singleton, who started in Nowitzki's place. "Dirk is a 20-30 point scorer every night, so we all had to adjust. I know my role - defense and bring energy. We might be one man short, but we ain't out. When Dirk comes back we'll be at full strength."

The Clippers also were shorthanded. They have been depleted with injuries throughout the season and were without center Chris Kaman (strained left arch) and leading scorer Zach Randolph (sore right knee).

"This really shows the absence of our low post game with Chris Kaman and Zach Randolph both out," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said.

It didn't help the Clippers that they couldn't score for the first five minutes of the game, allowing Dallas to grab a 9-0 lead. Marcus Camby finally scored at the 7:00 mark, but the team still fell behind by 12 as it shot just 4-of-17 from the field.

Struggling point guard Baron Davis - who shot under 30 percent for the fifth straight game - missed his first six shots and the team was 0-of-3 on 3-pointers in the first half. The Clippers hit 38 percent (30-of-79) overall, including 1-of-11 from the arc.

"Every team goes through their ups and downs," Davis said. "We need to get on track and put forth a better consistent effort. Our focus is not there yet but every team goes through this."

Even with Los Angeles struggling from the field, it took the Mavericks a little over two quarters to put them away. Los Angeles went on a 10-0 run in the second quarter to get to within two, 29-27.

Dallas countered with an 11-3 run to establish a 45-34 edge at halftime and built a 19-point advantage midway through the third quarter.