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Nowitzki, Howard help Mavs hold off Lakers

Jan 26, 2008 - 5:50 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard each had 26 points and 10 rebounds in helping the Dallas Mavericks upstage Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, 112-105, on Friday night.

Devin Harris scored 18 points and Jason Terry provided a spark off the bench with 15 for the Mavericks, who improved to 19-3 at home - the top mark in the league.

Bryant shined brightest for the Lakers, pouring in 40 points on 11-of-16 shooting. The reigning scoring champion also had 10 rebounds and five assists.

With just a one-point lead at halftime, the Mavericks were able to create a comfortable lead in the third quarter when Nowitzki's jumper sparked an 11-0 run to forge a 67-55 edge at the 8:45 mark.

"When we get stops, then you can start the running game," Nowitzki said. "Devin and (Terry) were pushing the ball up for us, looking for something on the break. If it's not there, you can always pull it out and run some plays. The third quarter gave us what we needed to put us over the hump."

Dallas continued to add to its advantage when Terry buried a 3-pointer and Howard completed a three-point play to close out the period for a 91-74 edge after three quarters.

"The way we played that third quarter was a snapshot of what we see in this team," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "The more we can play the way we played in the third quarter, then I think we will be in for a good ride this year."

But the Lakers battled back on the shoulders of Jordan Farmar, who poured in 10 points during a 14-4 surge to help close the gap to 95-88 with 6:05 remaining.

"I think we all have to contribute and pick up our load with all of the injuries that we've had," said Farmar, who finished with 18 points off the bench. "Everybody has to man up and step up a little bit and contribute a little more than they have been. I'm just looking to be aggressive and to help us try to win games."

"He's a tough player," Harris said of Farmar. "Coming from UCLA, obviously, we know he can play. He can hit some big shots and he's one of their top guys coming off the bench. I think that's why they are playing as well as they're playing right now. He's one of bigger guys coming off the bench for them."

Los Angeles cut its deficit even more when Bryant scored on a slicing layup over Erick Dampier to get within 106-101 at the 1:17 mark.

"I think we did a good job battling back," Bryant said. "We made some mistakes that some teams make. But Jordan had a (heck) of a game. Sasha (Vujacic) played extremely well. We made a couple of mistakes down the stretch, but it's something that we'll learn from.

"It's correctable things. But we did a great job battling back being down by 17, and actually having an opportunity to do some damage there. It just never materialized for us."

However, Harris completed a three-point play and Terry hit a dagger 3-pointer from the left wing to seal the deal with 27 seconds to go.

"They rotated out and I had a big guy flying at me," Harris said. "I just drove past one of them and tried to get it up on the other one and draw some contact."

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