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New York vs
94 - 123
Record: 13-12
The Dallas Mavericks made such a strong statement, there was little the New York Knicks could or would say to explain it away.

Josh Howard had career highs of 26 points and 16 rebounds, and the Dallas Mavericks opened a 39-point halftime lead in a 123-94 demolition of the Knicks on Tuesday night.

"We really came out hard. We really want to set ourselves apart again with the best of the West," Dirk Nowitzki said.

Nowitzki scored 23 points, all in the first half, and Michael Finley added 21 in what was easily the Mavericks' most lopsided victory of the season.

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Isiah Thomas taking over as team president, the Knicks were loudly booed off the court at the conclusion of the lopsided first half. Thomas watched the carnage unfold from his usual spot near the center-court tunnel, sticking around until the final seconds before chatting afterward with comedian Chris Rock.

The Knicks chose to shrug the loss off as an aberration following four wins in five games.

"There wasn't a lot of yelling, because we knew that was not us," Jamal Crawford said.

Still, it was a humiliating defeat for a Knicks team that was beginning to feel good about itself after moving two games above .500 for the first time in more than three years.

In many ways, it was a worse performance than a 34-point defeat against Boston in the home opener that led to the firing of coach Lenny Wilkens' top assistant, Dick Helm, the following day.

New York allowed Dallas to repeatedly score with ease on the inside, surrendering 100 points before the third quarter ended.

Howard, a second-year forward from Wake Forest, shot 7-for-17 from the field and 12-of-13 at the line with seven offensive rebounds and three steals. His previous career highs were 22 points and 14 rebounds.

"I knew I was playing hard, I didn't know career-best," Howard said. "Some of their guys weren't playing as hard as they could."

Nazr Mohammed led New York with 14 points, but he set the tone for what turned into a dreadful night by firing up airballs on the Knicks' first two possessions. A jump hook by Finley gave Dallas its first double-digit lead, 12-2, and the Mavericks made 13 of their first 17 attempts in opening a 31-17 lead.

The booing began in the second quarter when Howard gave the Mavericks their 10th and 11th second-chance points on a putback that made it 51-29. Kurt Thomas followed with an airball, and Nowitzki hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get the lead up to 26.

The Mavs' zone defense forced the Knicks to repeatedly throw up long jumpers, and Dallas often turned the ensuing long rebounds into fast breaks.

Howard dunked off a 3-on-1 break for the final points of the first half after Tim Thomas rushed up an ill-advised 3-pointer when the Knicks should have been holding for a last shot. The dunk made it 75-36 at the break.

The Mavs eventually went ahead by as many as 46 in defeating the Knicks for the seventh straight time and securing their fifth consecutive road win.

Dallas had 27 fast-break points and 21 second-chance points.

"There are a lot of things that go into having a good offensive night, but certainly the open court was good to us," coach Don Nelson said. "It got us into a rhythm and feeling good about ourselves, then we scored in our set offense almost every time in that first eight minutes of the game."

Mavericks G Jerry Stackhouse missed his second straight game with a sore right hand. Stackhouse, Shawn Bradley and injured center Didier Ilunga-Mbenga are the only members of the Dallas roster to have not been a starter this season. Stackhouse said he was "hopeful" to play Wednesday night at Atlanta. ... Jason Terry made his second consecutive start at point guard and had six points, seven assists and seven rebounds. ... The Mavericks have made a 3-pointer in 472 consecutive games.

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