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Knicks booed at end of first half

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks made such a strong
statement, there was little the New York Knicks could or would say
to explain it away.

Josh Howard had career highs of 26 points and 16 rebounds, and
the Dallas Mavericks opened a 39-point halftime lead in a 123-94
demolition of the Knicks on Tuesday night.

"We really came out hard. We really want to set ourselves apart
again with the best of the West," Dirk Nowitzki said.

Nowitzki scored 23 points, all in the first half, and Michael
Finley added 21 in what was easily the Mavericks' most lopsided
victory of the season.

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Isiah Thomas taking
over as team president, the Knicks were loudly booed off the court
at the conclusion of the lopsided first half. Thomas watched the
carnage unfold from his usual spot near the center-court tunnel,
sticking around until the final seconds before chatting afterward
with comedian Chris Rock.

The Knicks chose to shrug the loss off as an aberration
following four wins in five games.

"There wasn't a lot of yelling, because we knew that was not
us," Jamal Crawford said.

Still, it was a humiliating defeat for a Knicks team that was
beginning to feel good about itself after moving two games above
.500 for the first time in more than three years.

In many ways, it was a worse performance than a 34-point defeat
against Boston in the home opener that led to the firing of coach
Lenny Wilkens' top assistant, Dick Helm, the following day.

New York allowed Dallas to repeatedly score with ease on the
inside, surrendering 100 points before the third quarter ended.

Howard, a second-year forward from Wake Forest, shot 7-for-17
from the field and 12-of-13 at the line with seven offensive
rebounds and three steals. His previous career highs were 22 points
and 14 rebounds.

"I knew I was playing hard, I didn't know career-best," Howard
said. "Some of their guys weren't playing as hard as they could."

Nazr Mohammed led New York with 14 points, but he set the tone
for what turned into a dreadful night by firing up airballs on the
Knicks' first two possessions. A jump hook by Finley gave Dallas
its first double-digit lead, 12-2, and the Mavericks made 13 of
their first 17 attempts in opening a 31-17 lead.

The booing began in the second quarter when Howard gave the
Mavericks their 10th and 11th second-chance points on a putback
that made it 51-29. Kurt Thomas followed with an airball, and
Nowitzki hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get the lead up to 26.

The Mavs' zone defense forced the Knicks to repeatedly throw up
long jumpers, and Dallas often turned the ensuing long rebounds
into fast breaks.

Howard dunked off a 3-on-1 break for the final points of the
first half after Tim Thomas rushed up an ill-advised 3-pointer when
the Knicks should have been holding for a last shot. The dunk made
it 75-36 at the break.

The Mavs eventually went ahead by as many as 46 in defeating the
Knicks for the seventh straight time and securing their fifth
consecutive road win.

Dallas had 27 fast-break points and 21 second-chance points.

"There are a lot of things that go into having a good offensive
night, but certainly the open court was good to us," coach Don
Nelson said. "It got us into a rhythm and feeling good about
ourselves, then we scored in our set offense almost every time in
that first eight minutes of the game."

Game notes
Mavericks G Jerry Stackhouse missed his second straight
game with a sore right hand. Stackhouse, Shawn Bradley and injured
center Didier Ilunga-Mbenga are the only members of the Dallas
roster to have not been a starter this season. Stackhouse said he
was "hopeful" to play Wednesday night at Atlanta. ... Jason Terry
made his second consecutive start at point guard and had six
points, seven assists and seven rebounds. ... The Mavericks have
made a 3-pointer in 472 consecutive games.