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Mavericks overcome loss of Nowitzki to win 11th straight

DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks won their 11th straight game
Wednesday night, but they received a major scare in the process.

Star forward Dirk Nowitzki left the game late in the first
quarter because of blurred vision, but Josh Howard scored 26 points
to make up for his loss as the Mavericks beat the Toronto Raptors
117-98.

Nowitzki, who said after the game he expects to play Friday
against Sacramento, left with 1:46 remaining in the first with
blurred vision and left the arena to be examined by a team
specialist.

The five-time All-Star was cleared to resume all basketball
activities.

Even without Nowitzki, the Mavericks had few problems against
the Raptors.

"We have a lot of guys who can step in," Nowitzki said. "This
team is deeper than last year's. When somebody is out, somebody
else moves in."

Dallas reserve Jerry Stackhouse had 23 points, Jason Terry
chipped in 14, and Erick Dampier had 13 points and 14 rebounds. The
Mavericks have won 22 straight regular-season home games against
Eastern Conference opponents.

After losing their first four games, the Mavericks have embarked
on their third-longest winning streak.

"We don't think about (the winning streak)," Dampier said.
"We're just taking it one game at a time and coming out every
night ready to play good basketball on both ends of the floor."

Chris Bosh had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Toronto, which fell
to 1-8 on the road. T.J. Ford also scored 18 for the Raptors.

"They came out with a lot of energy," Toronto coach Sam
Mitchell said. "That's a good team. They didn't win 11 in a row by
mistake. They have so many weapons."

Howard keyed a 12-4 run in the third with a 3-pointer and a
three-point play after the Raptors rallied to cut it to 64-59. Both
he and Stackhouse had their season-high point totals.

"Even with our star player out, we had guys come in off the
bench and play well," Howard said.

The Mavericks, who led throughout the game, surged to a 26-6
lead by hitting 10 of their first 14 shots. Dallas led 38-23 after
the first quarter -- the fourth straight game it has scored at least
30 in the opening period.

The Raptors took advantage of Nowitzki's absence in the second
quarter as they crept within 10 points at halftime.

Ford scored consecutive baskets and fed Bosh for a dunk as
Toronto cut Dallas' lead to 64-59 early in the third. But that was
as close as the Raptors got.

Howard followed with a 3-pointer to put Dallas ahead by eight.
He then capped the run with a three-point play to give Dallas a
76-63 cushion with 4:13 left in the third.

"They scored on us a little bit in the third quarter," Dallas
coach Avery Johnson said. "We went really small and we thought
that really helped. Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse really carried
us during that stretch in the second and third quarters."

Dallas stretched its lead to 89-74 after three and led by as
many as 24 in the fourth.

"They're one of the best teams in the league," Ford said.
"They came out and showcased it."

Jorge Garbajosa had 13 points and Andrea Bargnani and Joey
Graham each had 12 for the Raptors, who have lost 12 of their last
14 games to the Mavericks.

Game notes
Toronto F Morris Peterson missed his fifth game with a
tendon tear in his left elbow. ... Toronto's Darrick Martin hit a
3-pointer at the final buzzer. The Raptors extended their NBA
record with a 3-pointer in 629 straight games.