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Mavericks drop Blazers to 0-8 on the road

DALLAS — With top scorer Dirk Nowitzki facing double-teams, it was up to Josh Howard to pick up the slack on offense for the Dallas Mavericks.

Howard had 23 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, helping the Mavericks overcome a subpar game from Nowitzki to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 91-80 on Friday night.

"They look for me to do a lot on this team," Howard said. "Whatever I need to do to get us going, I'm going to do it."

Nowitzki, the defending league MVP, began the night averaging 21.7 points, but was 0-for-5 in the first quarter and went without a point for the game's opening 20 minutes, 45 seconds. He finally converted a three-point play to give the Mavericks a 36-30 lead. Nowitzki finished with 11 points.

Howard shot 8-for-15 from the field and made all seven free throw attempts.

Dallas-area native and former University of Texas star LaMarcus Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 22 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high five blocked shots.

Aldridge drew the primary defensive assignment on Nowitzki, who missed 10 of 15 shots from the floor, but Aldridge also had plenty of double-teaming help.

"It's a team effort," Aldridge said. "Everyone took turns guarding him. When you get double-teamed, it's hard to score."

Jason Terry added 17 points and Devin Harris had 14 points and seven assists for the Mavericks, who extended their home winning streak against the Blazers to nine games.

Steve Blake had 12 points and Sergio Rodriguez added 10 for Portland, winless (0-8) on the road this season.

"Moral victories don't mean anything," Aldridge said. "We had breakdowns at bad times. It's part of growing up."

Brandon Roy had 32 points Portland's win over Dallas last month, but he finished with only eight points Friday.

In his last four games, Roy is averaging only 10.8 ppg. and has gone 17-for-59 from the field.

"Things like that happen," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Everyone's going to have a week where the rhythm's not there."

Howard scored six points during an 8-0 third-quarter run to stretch Dallas' advantage to 66-47.

The Mavericks went 14-for-19 from the field in the third quarter and took a 76-59 lead.

The Blazers moved to 76-65 with 9:10 left on back-to-back baskets by Aldridge.

Howard converted a three-point play and Terry drained a 3-pointer with 8:24 remaining to build the back lead, 81-65.

Portland made one last charge, using an 8-0 run capped by Blake's 3-pointer with 1:48 left to pull to 86-80.

But Harris hit two free throws with 1:13 remaining, Terry hit a jumper with 36 seconds left and Terry converted one of two free throws with 14.9 seconds left to ice the win.