Mavs In Top Form And Yao Looks Close To It

Monday, March 12th 2007, 5:54 am
By: News On 6

The Dallas Mavericks vow to keep improving. Same with Yao Ming.

Pity the Phoenix Suns, who have to see both in the next three nights.

Josh Howard scored 24 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 19, and the Mavericks took control early in humiliating the Los Angeles Lakers 108-72 Sunday night to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 17 games and match the longest winning streak in the NBA this season.

Dallas (52-9) has won 38 of its last 40 games. The victory Sunday was the Mavs' most one-sided win of the season and their most lopsided ever over the Lakers.

``Something we learned from the playoffs last year is we have to finish,'' Jerry Stackhouse said. ``Momentum's what we're trying to build now, build up enough momentum during the regular season to steam through the playoffs.''

In Houston, Yao scored 37 points in the Rockets' 103-92 victory over Orlando, his fourth game since returning from a broken right leg that caused him to miss 32 games. He still found something to complain about _ though he was probably the only one.

``Actually, it's getting better every day,'' he said. ``But my turnovers are still too high and my rebounds are still too low.

``I don't know how long it will be before I make it all the way back. I don't have experience with this kind of injury, so I don't know how long to say.''

He plays again Monday against the Suns, who then visit the Mavs on Wednesday night.

In other games, it was: Toronto 120, Seattle 119 in overtime; Detroit 98, the Los Angeles Clippers 80; Denver 113, Sacramento 101; Chicago 94, Boston 78; Cleveland 99, Indiana 88; Miami 106, Washington 104; and Portland 106, Golden State 87.

Tracy McGrady added 19 points and 10 assists for Houston, which won its third straight after losing four of five.

Grant Hill scored 17 points and Dwight Howard had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Orlando, which lost for the fifth time in six games, thanks to Yao's dominant performance.

``He's 7-6 and there isn't a lot you can do against him,'' Howard said. ``He had a good game and his jump shot was falling. You have to run him and we didn't run him enough, coming off his injury. You have to run the floor against him.''

The Lakers were run off their floor in their worst loss since they moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis in 1960. They played without injured forwards Luke Walton, Vladimir Radmanovic and Lamar Odom, and guard Smush Parker was ejected early in the second quarter after picking up his second technical foul.

Kobe Bryant had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who have lost six straight to equal the longest losing streak of coach Phil Jackson's career. No Jackson-coached team had ever lost more than five in a row before this season _ the Lakers also had a six-game skid last month.

``Our team is not about having the best talent in the world. Our team is built on chemistry and guys knowing how to play together,'' said Bryant, obviously frustrated. ``So when you take three starters out of the lineup and insert guys who are new to these concepts, it makes it difficult.''

There was some good news for Bryant. Odom said he will play Thursday against Denver, and the Lakers hope Walton will as well.

Nuggets 113, Kings 101

Allen Iverson had 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds to spoil Ron Artest's return to the Kings' lineup, and Denver snapped a 20-game losing streak in Sacramento.

Carmelo Anthony added 29 points and six rebounds and Marcus Camby had 16 points, 10 boards and six assists. Denver hadn't beaten the Kings in Sacramento since Jan. 7, 1997 _ the longest active losing streak in the league.

Artest had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists in his return following his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence.

Heat 106, Wizards 104

At Miami, Udonis Haslem's 10-footer in the lane with 0.3 seconds left capped a wild back-and-forth game.

The Heat blew a 16-point first-half lead, then rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to win their sixth straight overall and 12th in a row at home _ plus get within one game of Washington in the Southeast Division.

Cavaliers 99, Pacers 88

LeBron James scored 26 points _ his lowest total in 11 games _ but host Cleveland won its fifth straight and handed wilting Indiana its ninth consecutive loss.

Mike Dunleavy scored a season-high 25 points for the Pacers, whose skid is their longest since 1988-89.

Trail Blazers 106, Warriors 87

Zach Randolph had 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead Portland over visiting Golden State, which was without top scorer Baron Davis and had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Bulls 94, Celtics 78

Kirk Hinrich scored 26 points and Ben Gordon had 21 to help Chicago finish its road trip 3-1 and improve to 8-3 since the All-Star break.

Pistons 98, Clippers 80

At Los Angeles, Richard Hamilton scored 15 of his 23 points in the first quarter for Detroit, which won while Rasheed Wallace sat out a one-game suspension for accumulating 16 technical fouls.

Raptors 120, SuperSonics 119, OT

T.J. Ford scored nine points in overtime and host Toronto overcame a 36-point effort by Ray Allen to hand Seattle its third straight loss.

Chris Bosh led the Raptors with 27 points, while Ford added 24 points and 13 assists.