Howard has played only three games

Updated: December 8, 2009, 5:26 PM ET
By Marc Stein and Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks are about to get an unexpected booster shot for an offense that couldn't generate 80 points in Saturday's home loss to Atlanta.

Mavericks swingman Josh Howard -- who has played only three games this season and sat out the past 13 in a bumpy recovery from offseason ankle surgery -- will make his return to the lineup Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns, coach Rick Carlisle confirmed to ESPNDallas.com.

It was not immediately known whether Howard would start against the Suns, but he started in each of his previous three appearances this season to help Howard play at his loosest right after pregame warmups.

Doctors cleared Howard to play in early November, but the soreness in his ankle was more than he could tolerate. He went to the bench early in the second half of the Mavericks' Nov. 11 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, although he did not suffer a setback. After several discussions within the organization, it was determined that Howard would continue to practice and rehab even more aggressively but would not play again until he was comfortable with the pain level.

The Mavericks elected not to set a firm timetable for Howard's return when the 30-year-old returned to the inactive list in mid-November.

Rookie first-round pick Rodrigue Beaubois started all but one game at shooting guard since Howard was shut down again.

Howard missed 30 games last season and underwent operations on his left wrist and ankle the week after the Mavericks were eliminated from the playoffs. The Mavericks were 33-19 with him and 17-13 without him last season.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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