Career night for All-Stars Howard, Deron Williams, but Mavericks Win

Career night for All-Stars Howard, Deron Williams, but Mavericks Win

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By JAIME ARON AP Sports Writer

DALLAS (AP) -- The high-rollers who own front-row seats at Dallas Mavericks games gave up their spots Saturday night as part of the annual "Seats for Soldiers" benefit.

Then Dallas' Josh Howard and Utah's Deron Williams made sure the troops enjoyed quite a show.

On a night when both teams made 60 percent of their shots, Howard's career-best 47 pushed the Mavericks past the Jazz 125-117 despite a career-high 41 for Williams.

Howard's total was the sixth-most in Mavs history and topped his previous best by 17. His line: 14-of-19 shooting, 4-of-5 on 3-pointers and 15-of-17 on free throws, plus 10 rebounds, two assists and a block.

"Josh is great when he's aggressive for four quarters. Tonight, he had it rolling," teammate Jason Terry said.

Howard finished six points shy of the franchise scoring record.

"We didn't have much of an answer for Howard," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We couldn't stop him, but there were a lot of people we had a tough time stopping."

Erick Dampier scored 21 points, matching his total for the previous seven games. Devin Harris had a career-best 12 assists and 10 points. Terry had 19 points and Jerry Stackhouse had 10.

Dirk Nowitzki? He had 16, but none until five minutes into the second period. With everyone else playing so well, Dallas hardly needed the reigning MVP.

This game could've been a blowout. It actually headed that way when the Mavericks went up by 16 late in the third quarter.

Williams, however, refused to let it happen.

A Dallas-area native, Williams scored 18 points in the third quarter, including Utah's last nine. He had 14 more in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws that got the Jazz within 112-110 with 3:41 left.

Nowitzki answered with a basket, then Carlos Boozer missed a shot for Utah. Boozer fouled out on Dallas' ensuing possession and the comeback was pretty much done. Howard made sure of it by hitting a high-arching 22-footer, then feeding Terry for a fast-break dunk that made it 123-113.

"All our losses, we've struggled defensively," Williams said. "We dominated points in the paint, we executed well, we just didn't get enough stops. We need to work on helping each other out on our rotations."

Williams, who grew up in a Dallas suburb, was 13-of-20, 3-of-4 on 3-pointers and 12-of-13 from the line. He also had seven assists, two steals and three rebounds.

While he topped the career high of 35 points set earlier this season, he didn't have any satisfaction.

"No. We lost," he said.

The Jazz shot 67.5 percent in the first quarter, yet came out trailing by five. Utah went an incredible 14-of-17 (82.4 percent) in the third quarter, yet trimmed only two points off Dallas' lead. The Jazz wound up shooting 60.5 percent, yet lost its third straight.

Dallas shot 59.7 percent, scored its most points of the season and had all five starters score in double digits -- nice ways to end skids of two straight losses, three of four and six of nine. However, the Mavericks continued their trend of giving up 30-point quarters. They did so for the 11th time in 12 games, and actually did it twice, allowing 34 and 35 in the final two periods.

"We just weren't able to stop them for long stretches," Stackhouse said. "We know we've got to get better defensively in order to get a nice streak of games going. We're not going to be able to allow teams to shoot at that clip and expect to win."

Enjoying all the action courtside were roughly 125 military personnel from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and a National Guard unit from Fort Worth who recently returned from a year of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was the fourth straight year for this fan-started initiative. The troops were recognized between the first two quarters and received a standing ovation to the tune of "Proud To Be An American."

Dampier made 7-of-8 shots, had five rebounds and a pair of blocks. He hadn't scored more than eight points in a game all season, but was on from the start, scoring six of Dallas' first 11 points. Since he's joined the Mavs, they are 51-9 when he scores 10 or more points.

Boozer was 11-of-15 for 24 points with five rebounds and four assists. Andrei Kirilenko had 10 points and eight assists, Matt Harpring scored 11 points and Memet Okur had 10.

Utah was coming off a tough loss in San Antonio the previous night and it showed. The Jazz's only lead was 7-5; they allowed a 10-0 run after that.

Notes:@ After Boozer's final foul, Dampier left his first free throw about 2 feet short of the rim. He nailed the follow-up. ... Harris ran into a Guardsmen chasing down a loose ball in the third quarter. Said the public-address announcer: "Soldiers on the baseline: Incoming!" ... The troops also were treated to a fancy dinner before the game and a meet-and-greet with the Mavericks afterward. "This is always one of my favorite nights ... to go out there, give them a hug, sign autographs, take pictures," Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. Added Harris: "We're able to do what we're doing because they do what they do."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-12-08-07 2217MST

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