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Daniels has block, steal, assists at key juncture

DALLAS (AP) -- While three of his teammates had double-double
games, Marquis Daniels had the most impressive and important spurt
for the Dallas Mavericks.

Daniels denied the Portland Trail Blazers a chance to tie the
game with a blocked shot. He quickly added three straight assists
and a steal in a span of just over two minutes in the fourth
quarter.

"That's big energy," Mavs forward Josh Howard said.

The Trail Blazers never got even, and Dallas went on to a 92-83
win that ended a three-game losing streak.

"It's just small things we have to do," Daniels said. "I have
to step up and make good plays for the team on the defensive end.
That's a momentum swing."

Portland was within 71-69 after Ruben Patterson drove for a
layup with 7:40 left. Alan Henderson then missed two free throws,
giving the Blazers a chance to tie for the first time since the
game's opening minutes.

Daniels, who had 15 points and five assists, made sure that
didn't happen.

Daniels blocked Nick Van Exel's shot in the lane, and then got
the ball to Jason Terry for a 15-footer. Daniels then stole a pass
from Patterson and fed Howard for a layup.

After Zach Randolph's fadeaway jumper for the Blazers, Daniels
worked the ball inside to Erick Dampier for a rim-rattling slam
that put Dallas ahead 77-71 and in control of the game.

"They worked hard and they outhustled us," Shareef Abdur-Rahim
said. "That cost us the game."

Dirk Nowitzki had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Dallas, his
second straight double-double since missing a game with a sprained
left ankle. Dampier had 11 points and 11 rebounds just two days
after being held to a point in 31 minutes against San Antonio.

Howard added 20 points and 10 rebounds.

While still below the 104-point scoring average they had before
their losing streak, the Mavericks scored more than 82 for the
first time in four games. Technically, they still shot below 40
percent again -- 39.7 percent on 31-of-78 shooting.

"That should have been good enough to win, but their 21
offensive rebounds is what killed us," Portland coach Maurice
Cheeks said. "Our defense did pretty well, but our offense wasn't
good enough."

The Mavericks had 17 second-chance points, and Portland had just
four.

Derek Anderson had 23 points for Portland, which was coming off
consecutive wins in Florida against Miami and Orlando. Randolph
added 16 points, and Damon Stoudamire had 10 assists.

Anderson got the Trail Blazers within 61-60 after two straight
baskets late in the third quarter. He drove for a layup high off
the glass, then hit a 3-pointer after a Mavericks miss.

Nowitzki then hit five free throws in 32 seconds before Anderson
hit another 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 66-63.

Dallas never trailed after an early 18-3 run that started with
Dampier's tip-in in the first quarter. That got the Mavs within
15-14, and they led 30-18 by time Jerry Stackhouse hit a 15-footer
early in the second.

Portland then scored 11 straight points over the next 5½
minutes, getting within 30-29 on Anderson's free throw.

"Nothing seems to be very easy for us at this particular
time," Mavs coach Don Nelson said. "That is the way I thought the
season would go early. I expected all our games to be like this
where we wouldn't be in sync."

Daniels finally ended the Mavericks' scoring drought on an
alley-oop dunk from Nowitzki, and Howard drove for a layup to make
for a 34-29 lead -- the same margin Dallas had at halftime.

Game notes
Michael Finley, who missed Dallas' last nine games with a
sprained right ankle, is expected to be out at least another week.
... Van Exel, traded from Dallas after the 2002-03 season, was
scoreless in 21 minutes, missing all six of his shots.