Swingman leaves game with soreness

SAN ANTONIO -- Josh Howard's return from surgery on his left ankle hit a speed bump Wednesday night.

Howard, playing in games on back-to-back nights for the first time since having the minor reconstructive surgery in May, lasted only a few minutes in the second half of the Dallas Mavericks' 92-83 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Coach Rick Carlisle benched Howard because he noticed the swingman was limping. Howard, who made his season debut during Saturday night's win over the Toronto Raptors, experienced soreness in his ankle during a poor performance against the Spurs.

"I didn't know how I was going to respond," said Howard, who scored eight points on 2-of-11 shooting in 19 minutes. "This is what happened. It's just something that I've got to deal with and keep fighting."

Carlisle said he didn't need to ask Howard how he was feeling before determining that he needed to sit the rest of the game. Carlisle made that decision when he saw Howard limping early in the third quarter. Athletic trainer Casey Smith confirmed that Howard should rest the remainder of the game, according to Carlisle.

Howard will be re-evaluated Thursday. The Mavericks begin a stretch of three games in four days Friday in Minnesota.

"We'll treat it accordingly," Carlisle said. "He's had some soreness. This is no secret. He's in the early stages of a long process of recovery and reconditioning of the ankle and his body. There's going to be times when there's soreness and we've got to get him out of the game."

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at tim.macmahon@espn3.com.