Dallas 108, L.A. Lakers 72

LOS ANGELES, March 11 (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks are rolling, playing the best ball in team history.

The Los Angeles Lakers are nearing the other end of the spectrum, but help might soon be on the way.

Josh Howard scored 24 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 19, and the Mavericks took control early in humiliating the 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.

"We've been able to do a lot of good things with our defense,'' said Jerry Stackhouse, who had 13 points for the Mavericks. "Something we learned from the playoffs last year is we have to finish. Momentum's what we're trying to build now, build up enough momentum during the regular season to steam through the playoffs.''

The Mavericks (52-9) blew a fourth-quarter lead and lost their last visit to Los Angeles a little over two months ago, snapping a 13-game winning streak. They were never in jeopardy this time after taking a 59-35 halftime lead, getting their most one-sided win of the season and their most lopsided victory ever over the Lakers.

The loss was the worst setback at home for the short-handed Lakers 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.

"I'm frustrated how the ballclub is going in a nosedive,'' Parker said. "I'm not pleased with my play, and I'm not pleased with the team's play. I know I can play better than this.''

The Lakers hope that Walton, who hasn't played since spraining his right ankle Jan. 26, will return to action Thursday night at Denver. Odom, who sustained a torn labrum in his left shoulder March 2, not only said he was doing better than he expected, but plans to play Thursday night as well.

"I will play on Thursday - no doubt about it,'' he said.

Odom was cleared to practice Monday.

Jason Terry scored 14 points, Austin Croshere added 13, and DeSagana Diop had 13 rebounds for the Mavericks, who have won 38 of their last 40 games. Their only loss since being beaten by the Lakers 101-98 on Jan. 7 was an 11-point setback in Chicago on Jan. 25.

The win was just the third for Dallas in its last 32 games against the Lakers in Los Angeles.

The Phoenix Suns also had a 17-game winning streak this season. Those streaks are tied for the seventh-longest in NBA history. The Mavericks are the first NBA team to have three winning streaks of 12 or more games in a season.

Kobe Bryant had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers (33-31), 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.

"There's no reason for a blowout situation. We were embarrassed,'' Jackson said.

The Lakers' 72 points were just two more than the franchise low.

"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.''

Bryant scored 13 points in the first nine minutes to help put Los Angeles on top 20-13. That seemed to awaken the Mavericks, who outscored the Lakers 26-5 for a 14-point lead early in the second quarter. Stackhouse scored 11 points during the run.

The Lakers drew within 10 points before the Mavericks outscored them 16-2 to finish the second quarter for their 24-point halftime lead. The capacity crowd of 18,997 then booed the home team off the floor.

The Mavericks led by as many as 38 points in the late going. Reserves played most of the final period for both teams.

Notes: While the Lakers have had a horrible time with injuries this season, the Mavericks have been relatively healthy. Except for third-string center DJ Mbenga, out for the year after tearing a ligament in his right knee, everyone on the roster is available to play. ... The Lakers won an NBA-record 33 straight games in the 1971-72 season. The Mavericks are within three wins of matching the second-longest streak of 20 games by Milwaukee. The 1999-00 Lakers won 19 consecutive games, three teams have won 18 straight, and now five have won 17 in a row. ... The game set up for the Mavericks thanks to a favorable schedule - they were playing for the first time since Tuesday night, while the Lakers completed a four-game, six-day road trip Friday night Philadelphia. ... Dallas has a 22-6 road record - by far the best in the NBA. ... The loss tied the sixth worst ever for the Lakers since they moved to Los Angeles.

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