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Howard reclaims starting spot

DALLAS -- Josh Howard is starting for the first time since coming back from a lengthy absence to rehab his surgically repaired ankle.

That's a smart move, if not overdue. J.J. Barea just can't match up with Kobe Bryant. Plus, opponents had figured out that the key to stopping Barea is to show on the pick-and-roll. He's a defensive liability who hadn't been providing offensive punch.

Howard had come off the bench the last 14 games. The original idea was to ease him back into the mix while limiting his minutes. His ankle hasn't given him any trouble recently, giving Rick Carlisle the freedom to make this decision.

This is the lineup the Mavs envisioned all summer.