MINNEAPOLIS _ Josh Howard returned and so did the spring in the Mavericks' step.
They dismantled a Minnesota team that pretty much has been torn apart for the last couple months since Al Jefferson went down. With Dirk Nowitzki pumping in 23 points, Jason Terry adding 21 and the defense stifling the Wolves most of the night, the Mavericks cruised to a 108-88 whipping of the Timberwolves at Target Center.
The Mavericks ended a two-game losing streak and moved four games full games ahead of Phoenix in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
They return to American Airlines Center tonight to play Miami.
Howard had 14 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes of action. He was particularly sharp in the third quarter, when he had eight points and three rebounds. He was seeing his first action after missing 10 games with a left ankle injury.
The Mavericks took care of business by bolting ahead 34-18 late in the first quarter with an 11-0 surge.
From there, it was a matter of how much they won by. The lead never dipped below double digits.
Jason Kidd handed out 13 assists in barely three quarters of work and none of the heavy lifters had to over-extend themselves going into tonight's game against the Heat.