Josh Howard sparked first-half spurts of 17-1 and 11-0, letting the Mavericks build a huge lead that they turned into an easy 105-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs last night in Dallas.
The first of four meetings between the Western Conference powers lacked the sizzle likely to be found in future matchups.
The Mavericks came out aggressive on both ends and the Spurs - who'd won four straight and were a West-best 7-1 - were slow to respond.
Dirk Nowitzki hit three straight baskets to start Dallas's first run and Howard helped finish it off with the Mavericks ahead by 14. San Antonio got back within 8 points, then Howard started the second burst and the Mavericks led by at least 10 the rest of the game.
The Spurs wound up allowing 33 points in the first quarter and 59 in the first half, their worst this season. It was so bad they didn't even match Dallas's first-quarter point total until there was 3:39 left in the second quarter.
Howard finished with 23 points and Nowitzki had 17. Jason Terry had 18 points, and Devin Harris scored 14 of his 18 in the fourth quarter. Jerry Stackhouse added 10 points.
Suns 112, Bulls 102 - Leandro Barbosa scored 25 points and host Phoenix pulled away for its fourth straight victory.
Barbosa made five of seven 3-pointers, and Grant Hill added 24 points for the Suns on the heels of his 21-point effort against New York two nights earlier.
Shawn Marion scored 11 of his 21 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes and Boris Diaw had 7 of his 10 down the stretch in relief of Amare Stoudemire, who drew four fouls in a 3:18 minute span of the fourth quarter.
Steve Nash had 10 points and 15 assists for the Suns, and Stoudemire added 14 points.
Ben Gordon scored 24 and Luol Deng had 23 for the Bulls, who rallied from 14 down in the third to take the lead in the fourth.