DALLAS (AP) -All-Star forward Josh Howard missed the Dallas Mavericks' game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night because of a sprained ankle sustained the night before.
Howard was injured in the first quarter of a loss at Denver and didn't return. With only seven games left in the regular season and Dallas closing in on the top seed in the Western Conference, it only made sense that the Mavericks were being careful with their second-leading scorer, although coach Avery Johnson didn't like it portrayed that way.
``Let's just say he's out - no precaution,'' Johnson said.
Devean George started in Howard's place.
``Hopefully he'll be ready to go by the next game or the next game or the next game, but most of all by the playoffs,'' Johnson said.

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