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Mavs drop hapless Hawks to eighth straight loss

DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks shot under 40 percent and
committed 16 turnovers. That was still enough to extend the Atlanta
Hawks' season-opening losing streak to eight games.

Josh Howard had 25 points and five blocked shots, and Dirk
Nowitzki added 20 points and 13 rebounds, helping Dallas to an
87-78 victory Thursday night.

Dallas got off to a sluggish start, falling behind 16-11 in the
first quarter, the Mavericks' lowest-scoring quarter of the season.

But the Mavericks used a 29-point second quarter for a
seven-point halftime lead, and the Hawks were never able to get
closer than three the rest of the way.

"It was a weird game for us," Nowitzki said. "We never got
going. It was an ugly basketball game but at the end we made the
right plays to win the game."

Keith Van Horn added 14 points for the Mavericks, who won their
fourth straight, improving to 3-0 at home and 6-2 overall.

Dallas held Atlanta to 38 percent shooting, the second straight
game in which the Mavericks limited an opponent to less than 90
points and 40 percent shooting. Atlanta finished 1-for-9 from
3-point range.

"We had a bad shooting night. We really had to fight those guys
off," Howard said. "What helped us out was we finished strong at
the end of quarters."

Zaza Pachulia led the Hawks with a career-high 21 points.
Atlanta and the Toronto Raptors are the league's only winless teams
-- both at 0-8.

The Hawks took no solace from making the Mavericks work for the
win.

"The only morale boost is for us to get a win," Atlanta coach
Mike Woodson said. "This was a winnable game. We scraped and
scratched but they were a little better at the end of the game."

Joe Johnson scored 18 points, and Al Harrington added 15 points
and 10 rebounds for Atlanta.

Dallas held a 65-57 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Hawks got within 81-77 on Johnson's three-point play with
2:12 left, but the Mavericks finished with a 6-1 run over the final
1:36 to seal the victory.

The Mavericks missed 15 of 20 shots from the field in the
opening quarter, and Nowitzki went scoreless in 10:51 of the first
quarter before getting nine in the second quarter.

Dallas played better defense at the urging of coach Avery
Johnson, holding Atlanta to 7-for-20 shooting in the second
quarter, and the Mavericks led 40-33 at the break.

"We came out slow," Howard said. "We got shots. They just
weren't going in. There are going to be games like that. We've just
got to keep fighting through it like we did tonight."

The Mavericks were without starting guard Doug Christie, who
went to his home in Seattle earlier in the day to have his sore
right ankle examined by his personal physician.

Christie has been having problems with the ankle despite
starting Dallas' first seven games this season and the club said he
is out indefinitely. The defensive specialist was replaced in the
starting lineup by Marquis Daniels, who finished with 11 points.

Game notes
Van Horn was back in the rotation after missing Tuesday
night's game because of a sprained middle finger on his right hand.
... Point guard Tyronn Lue was replaced by forward Marvin Williams
in the Hawks' starting lineup, a move not related to injury. Lue
scored seven points off the bench on Thursday night. ... Dallas
center Erick Dampier fouled out, going scoreless with eight
rebounds and six turnovers. ...The Mavericks had 11 blocked shots,
their second straight game with more than 10. Last season Dallas
didn't have double-digit blocks until its 42nd game.