Injury-laden Hornets fall deeper into losing slump

DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks had little trouble
maintaining their seven-year run of dominance over the
injury-depleted New Orleans Hornets.

Jason Terry scored 25 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 17, and the
Mavericks extended their winning streak to nine games with a 94-80
victory over the Hornets on Saturday night.

Josh Howard added 15 points and Devin Harris had 12 to help the
Mavericks beat the Hornets for the 20th consecutive time, the
longest active streak in the four major North American professional

The last time the Hornets beat the Mavericks was on Nov. 17,

New Orleans grabbed a brief 34-33 lead with 8:44 left until
halftime before Dallas took control with a 19-8 run over the rest
of the quarter.

"We lost focus and had some lapses," Howard said. "But we
turned it up and finished strong."

Dallas improved to an NBA-best 23-7, but the Mavericks were far
from perfect against the short-handed Hornets.

"We definitely needed to win this game tonight," Terry said.
"For the most part, we did a decent job, but for a couple of
stretches we didn't play the kind of defense we're capable of. We
could have easily given the game away, but I don't think you're
going to see that from our team."

The victory boosted Avery Johnson's head coaching record to
99-31. The late Red Auerbach holds the NBA record for quickest to
100 coaching victories, reaching the milestone in 135 games.

Marc Jackson scored 22 points, Desmond Mason added 17, and Devin
Brown had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets, who were
without four of their top five offensive players.

Chris Paul, the Hornets' leader with 18.4 points and 9.0 assists
per game, sat out his third straight because of a sprained right
ankle that will keep him sidelined for a month.

Also out for the Hornets, who knocked off the Denver Nuggets in
Oklahoma City on Friday night, were Bobby Jackson (cracked rib),
Peja Stojakovic (back surgery) and David West (right elbow).

The Hornets have lost eight of their last 10.

"It's like climbing Mt. Everest without the rope," Hornets
coach Byron Scott said. "But that's how it is. Our young guys are
getting some valuable experience."

Dallas hit eight straight field goal attempts during a
first-quarter run and had a 10-0 spurt in the second quarter to
build a 53-41 halftime lead.

Terry had 17 first-half points and Howard added 12, but Nowitzki
took only five shots from the floor and had seven points in the
opening half.

The Mavericks opened the third quarter with a 13-2 run, led by
six points from Nowitzki, for a 66-43 edge, and the rout was on.

"Even though those guys (the Hornets) were short-handed, we
wanted to show them the same respect," Dallas' Anthony Johnson
said. "Even though we were inconsistent at times, overall we
played well."

Dallas went on to lead by as many as 26 points and took a 77-56
advantage into the final quarter.

New Orleans couldn't get closer than 11 points in the fourth.

"They (the Mavericks) are very good and very deep," Scott
said. "We didn't think we would have an easy night against this
team. Being the championship team that they are, they tightened up,
got stops when they needed them."

Game notes
The Mavericks' season-best winning streak was 12 games from
Nov. 9-Dec. 1. ... Dallas F Jerry Stackhouse missed his fourth
straight game with a sprained left ankle. Avery Johnson said
Stackhouse would also sit out Sunday night's game in Denver, then
will test the ankle in practice next week. ... Dallas has scored 30
or more points in the first quarter 14 times this season. ...The
Mavericks are 11-0 when they hold their opponent below 90 points.
...Nowitzki has led the Mavericks in scoring only once in the last
nine games after doing so 17 times in the first 21 games.