No one had to send Josh Howard the memo.
The moment he learned Jason Terry had gone down, Howard said he knew he had to step up his game.
The first step was a big one.
Terry's loss thrust Howard back into the secondary scoring role where he has flourished in past years. The forward responded with one of his better all-around games of the season in the Mavericks 118-100 win over Sacramento at the American Airlines Center.
Howard finished with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists. He got the Mavericks going early _ 16 of his points came in the first quarter _ and he attacked the basket. He played a strong second half defensively.
"Josh played great,'' Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
He wasn't alone.
Five players scored in double figures as the team shot 55.3 percent from the field in the first game of Terry's absence with a broken bone in his hand. Jason Kidd, who Carlisle said will be, "up to his neck in this thing'' with Terry out, had 15 points, 12 assists and four steals. Erick Dampier had 16 rebounds as the Mavericks dominated the Kings on the boards, 47-28.
"It's going to take a complete, team effort to fill the void,'' Howard said.
Carlisle didn't get the defensive intensity he wanted, calling his team's effort pathetic in the first half. But after a stern halftime speech _ "Coach came in here and said, bleep, bleep, bleep, get out there and bleep,'' Antoine Wright said _ the Mavericks responded.
Few will look back on this win at the end of the season and consider it significant. But given who the Mavericks had lost, and given the momentum this team has begun to build in recent weeks, this was big to keep the players feeling good about themselves.
"We're just trying to make a statement before the All-Star break,'' Howard said.