After extending their longest winning streak of the season in thrilling fashion, the Dallas Mavericks hope to have Josh Howard back in the lineup following a one-game absence when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Monday.
According to Dallas' official Web site, Howard, the team's second-leading scorer at 20.7 points per game, is expected to rejoin the Mavericks (26-11) on Monday. The center sat out Saturday's 95-94 win over the Los Angeles Clippers because of personal reasons.
Dallas, winner of 12 of 14, is looking to extend a seven-game winning streak - its longest since winning nine in a row from March 16-30. The Mavs barely managed to keep the run going Saturday, getting a 3-pointer by Jerry Stackhouse as time expired to sink the Clippers.
Dallas trailed by nine with five minutes remaining before going on a 14-4 run. After Dirk Nowitzki tied the game at 92 with 1:14 remaining, the Clippers went back ahead with two free throws before Stackhouse hit his 3.
"The play was supposed to go to Dirk, but they double-teamed him and (Jason) Terry found me. Fortunately I was able to knock it down," Stackhouse said. "I had a couple of good looks that didn't go down, but everyone kept telling me that I was going to get one.
"It just feels good to be able to step up and help the team get this win. It was a great win."
Nowitzki led the Mavs with 22 points and seven rebounds while Terry finished with 20 points. Stackhouse scored 13.
Saturday was the first time Howard missed a game since he was suspended the first two games of this season for an altercation with Sacramento's Brad Miller in an exhibition game Oct. 16.
Howard scored 27 points against the Kings (14-21) in Dallas on Nov. 3 in the Mavs' 123-102 victory.
The Kings were unable to record their first three-game winning streak of the season Saturday, losing 111-105 to Indiana. Sacramento shot 50 percent from the field and went 24-of-25 from the free-throw line, but it matched a season-high with 23 turnovers, leading to 25 Pacers points.
Eleven of the turnovers came in the first quarter.
"It's difficult to overcome the way we started the game in terns of turning the ball over," coach Reggie Theus said. "It sets the tone. I think the early part of the game most of their points came off turnovers, our mistakes, and not from their offense."
Kevin Martin scored 25 points after missing the previous 17 games with a groin injury. He came off the bench and played 28 minutes, going 7-of-9 from the field.
"It felt good out there," Martin said. "I still have to get a lot of my game back, get my timing down and get in the groove with my teammates."
While the return of Martin, who led the Kings in 2006-07 with 20.2 points per game, gives the struggling Kings a boost, they are still playing without Ron Artest (elbow) and Mike Bibby (thumb). Both are expected to return this month.
Sacramento has lost six straight to Dallas, including two in a row at home.
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