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Mavs take seventh straight win with victory over Wizards

DALLAS (AP) -- Gilbert Arenas looked like he was on his way to
another 40-point game after getting the Washington Wizards off to a
fast start.

But Dirk Nowitzki had another stellar performance for Dallas,
and got much more help from his teammates than Arenas in what
became a runaway romp for the surging Mavericks.

"We tried to run them out of the gym in the first half, but it
backfired," Arenas said.

Nowitzki scored seven of his 30 points in a game-turning spurt
that ended the third quarter and had 14 rebounds for the Mavericks,
who stretched their NBA-best winning streak to seven with a 107-80
victory Tuesday night.

Dallas hasn't lost since following its trip to the NBA finals by
starting 0-4 for the first time.

"I think we were just trying to find ourselves a little bit,"
said reserve Austin Croshere, who had 14 points and was one of six
Mavericks newcomers who played. "Early, we were waiting for things
to happen, and now we're making things happen."

Arenas, who had 45 points in Washington's last game, already had
26 against the Mavs when he made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 9:29
left in the third quarter.

Then the Wizards went cold, missing 10 straight shots. By the
time DeShawn Stevenson drove for a basket in the opening minute of
the fourth quarter, the Wizards were down by 12 points.

And Arenas scored only three more points -- all free throws -- and
struggled shooting. On consecutive shots during the Dallas streak,
he had an offensive foul and hit the side of the backboard with a
12-footer.

After Arenas made his last field goal, Nowitzki responded with
one of his own 3-pointer to tie the game at 58. That started a 21-6
run over the remainder of the third quarter that put the Mavericks
firmly in control.

Washington hasn't won any of its first five road games, the
latest it has gone this deep in the season without a road victory
since 1999-00. The Wizards play in Houston on Wednesday night.

With Dallas playing its fourth game in five days, coach Eddie
Jordan thought the Wizards "could have the energy and outlast them
for 48 minutes."

They barely made it past halftime.

Jason Terry and Devin Harris both had 18 points for the
Mavericks, and watched the final 3:46 with Nowitzki after Johnson
cleared his bench. Anthony Johnson had 11 points in 17 minutes,
while DeSagana Diop had 13 rebounds.

Caron Butler had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and is the only
Washington player with at least 10 points in every game this
season.

Three days after scoring 45 against Cleveland, Arenas looked
like he was on way to consecutive 40-point games for only the
second time. Plus, he had a 43-point game in Dallas two seasons
ago.

Arenas made two baskets in the first minute of the game,
prompting a quick timeout from Johnson. It didn't stop the Wizards'
All-Star, who had 15 points by the end of the first quarter, when
the Wizards led 30-21.

"He got going early. He was the aggressor," Jordan said. "We
wanted him to be aggressive. That was the only reason we were in
it."

Arenas hit two free throws with 6:13 left in the game, his last
points and the only ones he scored after making a free throw with
7:33 remaining in the third quarter.

The Mavericks started the second quarter with a 10-0 run, going
ahead on Greg Buckner's 3-pointer. After that, the margin was never
larger than three points until Nowitzki's 14-foot fadeaway jumper
made it 64-60 early in Dallas' impressive surge.

Game notes
Johnson said F Josh Howard, who has missed eight games
since spraining his left ankle Nov. 6, will resume practice in the
next few days and could be back in the starting lineup by this
weekend. ... Jerry Stackhouse missed his last 12 shots after making
his first two to give Dallas an early 9-4 lead. ... The 30 points
by Washington were the most the Mavs have allowed in a first
quarter this season. Dallas' 21 points were the fewest given up by
the Wizards in an opening quarter. ... Devean George missed his
second straight game for Dallas because of a hyperextended right
knee.