Mavs' Howard makes return vs. Nuggets

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard returned Monday against the Denver Nuggets after being inactive for 11 straight games because of a sprained left ankle.

Howard didn't start, but came off the bench late in the first quarter. Coach Rick Carlisle said Howard will be eased back into the starting lineup.

Howard, whose last game was Nov. 18, entered as Dallas' No. 2 scorer at 20.3 points per game.

He began wearing a walking boot a week ago, then shed the boot over the weekend when swelling subsided.

Dallas was 9-2 in Howard's absence.