Mavs get the easy win
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L
77
92
New York vs Dallas
77 - 92
Record: 30-37
The Knicks bench during the last minutes of the game (AP Photo)
The Knicks bench during the last minutes of the game (AP Photo)
NEW YORK (AP) - The Dallas Mavericks are loaded. The New York Knicks are short-handed.

Not surprisingly, the result was lopsided.

Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard each scored 24 points, and the Mavericks hit the 55-win mark for the third straight season by beating the Knicks 92-77 Tuesday night.

Jason Terry added 15 points for the Mavericks, who pulled away from the banged-up Knicks early in the second half and improved the NBA's best record to 55-11. They have won three in a row after losing consecutive games for first time since starting 0-4.

"I think offensively we're explosive. I think we can score with the best of them," Nowitzki said. "I think even though we're a slower team now than we used to be with (Don Nelson), defensive-minded, we still have a lot of offense out there."

Erick Dampier had 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Howard grabbed 10 boards as the deeper Mavs wore down the Knicks and shot 53 percent from the field. Reserve Jerry Stackhouse scored 10 points.

"As far as wearing them down, we just stick to our game plan," Howard said. "If they get tired, they get tired. We're going to keep coming."

Dallas improved to 2-0 on a six-game road trip that opened Sunday with a victory at Eastern Conference-leading Detroit. The Mavericks visit Cleveland, right behind the Pistons in the East standings, on Wednesday.

Eddy Curry had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who are playing without the injured Jamal Crawford , David Lee and Quentin Richardson , and have lost three of four.

In addition, New York point guard Stephon Marbury left with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining with what looked like an injury to his left arm; Channing Frye missed most of the second half after getting poked in the right eye; and Curry played through a back problem that forced him to miss the morning shootaround.

"Channing and then Steph, I was just trying to figure out who was I going to put in and how were we going to play," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said.

Frye was diagnosed with a corneal abrasion and will be re-evaluated Wednesday. Marbury said he could have returned.

New York missed a number of shots around the basket and shot only 36 percent as the extra workload some players are facing seemed to be taking its toll. Marbury was 2-of-10 from the field two games after a 3-for-13 showing in a loss to New Orleans.

Nate Robinson was the only other Knicks player in double figures with 19 points. Reserve Renaldo Balkman had 10 rebounds but was only 3-for-10. Curry was 4-of-12 from the free throw line.

"I don't think it was them, I think it was us tonight," Marbury said. "We were just making mistakes. We had a lot of mistakes tonight."

The Knicks are a half-game behind New Jersey and Orlando for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Knicks are 1-2 on a four-game homestand that ends Thursday against Portland.

Before the game, Dallas owner Mark Cuban again talked of how he considered selling the team last summer. Good thing he didn't, because he would've gotten rid of a team that looks like a title contender. The Mavs have won 55 games in five of the last six seasons, and should have no trouble surpassing the franchise-record of 60 victories.

Not that the Mavs care much about racking up a gaudy regular-season record after last year's loss in the NBA finals.

"I think we've got the second highest number of wins since I've taken over," Cuban said, "and that and a quarter leaves me searching for another 50 cents to buy some coffee."

Curry had the first basket of the second half to cut Dallas' lead to 46-45, but Nowitzki and Howard combined for nine straight points. The Mavs stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the period, pushing their lead to 69-55 in the final minute when Nowitzki was fouled while making a jumper.

The Mavericks shot 70 percent in the first quarter, getting 11 points from Howard to take a 30-23 lead. Dallas led throughout the second quarter, though New York trailed only 46-43 at halftime despite shooting just 38.5 percent in the half.

Notes:
Mavs coach Avery Johnson dismissed remarks made by Thomas over the last two days that the Knicks had little chance to win this game. "If they're so helpless, tell them to stay in the locker room and forfeit the game," Johnson said. "All right, let's do that." ... Cuban was wearing a pair of sneakers from Marbury's "Starbury" line that retail for $14.98. ... Between the first and second quarters, the overhead scoreboard posted a "Happy 50th birthday" wish to movie director and Knicks fan Spike Lee.

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