Mavericks-Heat Preview

Josh Howard might have to miss a game occasionally due to

lingering pain in his surgically repaired left ankle. The Miami

Heat could use a break from facing the Dallas Mavericks’ veteran


With Howard’s status uncertain again, the Mavericks look to

extend a 10-game regular-season winning streak against the Heat on

Friday night.

Howard was back on the court Tuesday night after missing 13

games, giving Dallas (15-7) a boost off the bench in a 102-101 win

over Phoenix. He had 20 points, six rebounds and three steals,

preparing his ankle before the game with bandage and a brace.

“It’s going to be sore, guys, it’s going to be sore the rest of

the year,” he said.

Coach Rick Carlisle said Howard may miss one of the Mavs’

back-to-back games this weekend. Dallas hosts Charlotte on Saturday


Howard hasn’t missed a matchup during the Mavericks’ 10-game

regular-season run against the Heat, averaging 16.1 points and 6.5

rebounds. Dallas has won six straight overall against Miami since

losing the 2006 NBA finals in six games.

Howard played in each of those contests, too, then made his

first All-Star team the following season. His left ankle bothered

him for most of 2008-09, limiting him to 52 games, and he missed 18

of the first 21 this season.

Howard is averaging 14.5 points in four contests.

Miami (11-9) is expected to get starting center Jermaine O’Neal

back after he missed a 115-102 win at Sacramento on Sunday night

due to a family issue. O’Neal is averaging 14.3 points and 8.1


Joel Anthony started for O’Neal, posting five points and five

rebounds. Dwyane Wade had 34 points and 10 assists to lead the

Heat, while Dorell Wright had the breakout game he had been


Wright had a season-high 19 points in the same arena where he

went down with a torn meniscal tear in his left knee March 2, 2008.

The forward missed the rest of that season, and the injury lingered

as he was only able to play in six games in 2008-09.

Wright was averaging 2.4 points in 12 games before playing a

season-high 29 minutes against the Kings.

“He was a starter two years ago,” Wade said. “It was great that

Dorell was finally given an opportunity again and was able to come


Wade continues to carry Miami offensively, but he’s 0 for 10

from 3-point range over his last five games. He’s shooting 24.0

percent from beyond the arc after making a career-best 31.7 percent

last season.

Wade ranks fifth in the league in scoring, averaging 27.1

points. He’s just ahead of Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, who averages

27.0 and has topped 30 in each of his last two games.