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Howard, Mavs dominate Jefferson-less Nets at home

DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks jumped on the weary New
Jersey Nets from the opening tip, and didn't let up.

Josh Howard scored 29 points and Keith Van Horn added 23 -- going
5-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half -- in the Mavericks'
110-77 rout of the Nets on Saturday night.

New Jersey had 10 turnovers in the opening quarter, leading to
16 Dallas points as the Mavericks rolled to a 32-19 advantage.
Dallas, which had seven steals in the first quarter and never
trailed, didn't commit a turnover in the opening period and went on
to lead by as many as 38.

"We kind of threw the first punch and kept on punching,"
Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We were fortunate enough to
put together one of our better games of the (season)."

Dirk Nowitzki added 16 points for the Mavericks, who beat the
Nets for the 11th straight time. The season-high point totals from
Howard and Van Horn helped Dallas to its fourth victory in five
games overall.

Dallas' previous four games had been decided by four points or
less, two going to overtime, and the Mavericks were ready for an
easy night.

"We've had so many close games," Van Horn said. "It seems
like every game we've played the last two weeks has been a
cliffhanger. It's good to get a win like this."

Jason Kidd scored 19 points and Vince Carter had 17 for the
Nets, who have lost three straight after a 10-game winning streak.

New Jersey hasn't beaten Dallas since March 2, 2000.

The Nets finished with 25 turnovers that led to 36 Mavericks
points and looked like a tired team, a night after they lost 81-69
at Memphis.

"We've had three tough games in a row," Carter said. "We
didn't bring our 'A' game. We didn't even bring our 'B' game."

The Mavericks had been resting since a 117-115 overtime loss on
the road to the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

Dallas used its highest-scoring half of the season to build a
67-44 lead at the break behind Van Horn's 21 points and Howard's
17.

"We were overdue," Howard said. "We weren't expecting to beat
New Jersey like that. But with our defense going like it was, we
really jumped on them."

Dallas made seven of its first eight 3-pointers and Van Horn
surpassed his previous season high of 19 points with 5:33 left
until halftime.

The Mavericks took a 93-57 edge into the final quarter.

"You have to give Dallas credit," Nets coach Lawrence Frank
said. "They were the far better team tonight. They imposed their
will and totally played at a much higher level than we did."

Johnson had been displeased with the recent play of the Mavs,
who had lost two of their previous five, but Johnson had few
complaints about Dallas' first-half effort on both ends of the
floor.

Johnson made a change in the Mavericks starting lineup,
promoting center DeSagana Diop over Erick Dampier, who started the
first 36 games.

Diop had seven rebounds and two blocked shots in 20 minutes and
Dampier finished with three rebounds and two blocks in 15.

"I thought Diop did well with limited minutes ... and I thought
Dampier came out and contributed off the bench," Johnson said.

Game notes
Dallas had its largest margin of victory ever over New
Jersey, surpassing a 99-73 win on Dec. 10, 2000. ... The Mavericks'
biggest margin of victory this season was a 119-82 blowout of
Detroit on Nov. 19. ... New Jersey G Jeff McInnis left the game in
the second quarter with a sprained left knee and didn't return. His
condition will be evaluated on Sunday. ... Johnson has been
critical of Dampier's consistency, but the coach said before the
game that the switch at center isn't permanent. "Teams change
lineups all the time," Johnson said. "We're not a championship
team where we're bringing back five (starters). We're still
searching." ... The Nets were hopeful that F Richard Jefferson
would return to the starting lineup, but Jefferson hasn't quite
recovered from back spasms and was inactive for the third straight
game.