Mavericks 129, Raptors 101
Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and nine rebounds, and Howard scored 16 points in his season debut in the Mavericks' 129-101 victory over Toronto on Saturday night.
Howard was in the starting lineup after missing all of the preseason and the first five games while recovering from surgery on his left ankle and left wrist in May.
He was a little jittery at the beginning, but he quickly settled down with some aggressive moves to the basket.
"I was nervous as heck out there," he said. "But after I made my first couple free throws, I was fine."
He admitted he'll be sore for a while, but he was pleased with his performance after adding four rebounds, two assists and three steals in 24 minutes.
"It's something I have to keep working through," Howard said. "Of course I'm fatigued and I have to work through the process of getting back to 100 percent, which I'm not. But I felt pretty good, getting back in the swing of things. I had a good time out there."
Jason Terry added 19 points, and Shawn Marion had 18 points and eight rebounds for Dallas, hitting his last nine attempts from the field.
Marion saw flashes of the Mavericks' offensive potential in his first game with Howard. Marion joined the Mavericks from the Raptors in a multiple-team trade in July.
"It felt good, but a little weird because we haven't been out there," Marion said. "It's always good to have another weapon out there."
Dallas native Chris Bosh had 26 points and 12 rebounds for Toronto, and Andrea Bargnani added 22 points.
Toronto opened a three-game trip Friday night with a 107-90 victory at New Orleans, but the Raptors were lethargic on the second night of the back-to-back.
"It was our first back-to-back, and they got off to a track meet," Bosh said. "We kind of played into their game. We settled for too many jump shots. They got long rebounds and were off to the races."
The Raptors set a club record with eight 3-pointers in the third quarter against the Hornets, but Toronto made only 8 of 22 from long range against Dallas.
"They went past us, and they shot over us," Toronto coach Jay Triano said. "They had more movement and energy and had confidence in their shooting. Our energy level was low."
Howard got off to a fast start, contributing seven points and two rebounds while playing the entire first quarter as Dallas carried a 26-25 lead into the second quarter.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was impressed with Howard's first-quarter effort.
"He's definitely one of the high-energy guys," Carlisle said. "Josh was aggressive, which is his nature."
"You've got to be ready when the lights go on," said Howard, who was counted on to provide first-quarter offense for the Mavericks last season. "I want to be the guy who gets things going. I don't want to lose that job. The one person besides myself who does a great job in the first quarter is LeBron James."
Nowitzki had 16 points in the half to lead Dallas to a 55-48 lead. Bosh had 15 points and 10 points at the break.
The Mavericks broke the game open with a 15-4 run to start the third quarter, giving Dallas a 70-52 advantage.
Nowitzki converted his first three 3-pointers and his first four field goal attempts of the third quarter to help Dallas to an 85-70 edge entering the final quarter.
Terry had 12 points in the fourth quarter and the Mavericks shot 74 percent from the floor in the second half (29-for-39).
Dallas had 24 fastbreak points to Toronto's 12 and the Mavericks generated 21 points off 14 Raptor turnovers.
"It all starts with defense," Marion said. "The more we play defense and get stops, the better our offense will be. We've got to keep that going."
NOTES: The Mavericks have won 10 in a row at home against the Raptors. ... Dallas had been off since Wednesday night when the Mavericks were beaten at New Orleans, 114-107. ... The Mavericks set a season high for points ... Bosh already has four double-doubles.