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After being named a Western Conference All-Star, Josh Howard poured in 22 points to help the Mavericks beat the Rockets.
DALLAS, Feb. 9 (AP) -- Hours after being chosen for the All-Star game, Josh Howard showed that he deserves to be there.
Howard celebrated his first selection with 22 points and seven rebounds to lead the Dallas Mavericks to their team-record 17th straight home victory, 95-74 over the Houston Rockets.
Howard was added to the Western Conference team earlier in the day by commissioner David Stern as an injury replacement pick.
"It's pretty cool to make it at all, regardless of the circumstances,'' Howard said. "I thank the commissioner for the opportunity.''
Teammates were thrilled for Howard, who didn't think he had much of a chance of joining Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks' top scorer and rebounder, in Las Vegas. But Howard has raised his game several notches this season, with his team improving to 20-2 when he scores 20 or more points.
"We're really proud of him,'' Dallas' Devin Harris said. "He's worked extremely hard and is deserving of it.''
Jason Terry added 18 points, Nowitzki had 15 points and eight rebounds, and reserve Jerry Stackhouse scored 14 points for the Mavericks, who stretched their overall winning streak to six games. Dallas hasn't lost at home since last Dec. 7 to the Detroit Pistons.
"No one stops him, but it's contesting every shot,'' Howard said. "He's going to get a lot of touches. You just want to be right in front of him every time.''
McGrady got off only 16 shots, connecting on seven. Last month, McGrady was able to attempt 29 shots, hitting 17.
"When I brought up the ball, there were two guys on me and our offense became hesitant,'' McGrady said. "Guys didn't know what to do. We're too good for that.''
Dallas' franchise record of 16 in a row at home was set from Jan. 3-March 3, 2006, then matched this season from Dec. 9-Feb. 7.
"That's good, but if we can get that in the playoffs, it would be even better,'' Buckner said.
The Mavericks extended their lead to eight games over second-place San Antonio in the Southwest Division. The Spurs were beaten 106-104 by the Orlando Magic earlier Friday night.
Rockets center Yao Ming missed his 22nd straight game as he recovers from a broken right leg. Houston was also without swingman Bonzi Wells, sidelined by a sore lower back.
Howard scored the first seven points of the third quarter to push the Mavericks' lead to 50-39, and Dallas maintained at least a four-point edge throughout the quarter.
The Rockets were down 52-48 with 4:50 left in the third quarter, but the Mavericks got their fast break going for 16 unanswered points - 10 from Stackhouse - for a 68-48 edge.
Dallas took a 72-53 lead into the fourth quarter.
Houston closed the first quarter with a 9-0 run over a span of 2:06, led by McGrady's six points, to take a 24-20 lead into the second quarter.
McGrady, who had 21 first-quarter points against Dallas on Jan. 16, had 14 in the opening 12 minutes on Friday night and 16 at halftime.
Dallas closed the first half with a 16-6 spurt over the final 5:10 for a 43-39 advantage at the break.
Houston shot a season-low 33 percent from the field (26-for-78), and coach Jeff Van Gundy took much of the blame.
"I have to make sure we play better against teams the quality of Dallas,'' Van Gundy said. "If you want to point the finger, point it at me.''
Notes: Dallas C Erick Dampier was back in the starting lineup after missing one game due to a sore right knee. Dampier had 11 rebounds and backup C DeSagana Diop had a season-high 14 rebounds. ... The Rockets got only two points from their bench during the first three quarters while Mavericks' reserves were contributing 24. ... Houston went 3-for-17 from the field in the third quarter. ...Dallas has beaten Houston in six of their last seven meetings. ...the Mavericks held a 55-40 rebounding edge. Dallas is 17-0 when outrebounding an opponent by 10 or more.