- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Josh Howard is returning to the Dallas Mavericks just in time for the playoff push.

The former All-Star was in the starting lineup against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night after an 11-game absence because of a sore left ankle.

His return is a huge boost for a team that is trying to distance itself from Phoenix in the Western Conference playoff race. The Mavericks started the day with a 3 1/2-game lead over the Suns for the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Timberwolves were without Randy Foye and Craig Smith for the second straight game. Foye is out with a hip injury, while Smith has a strained calf.

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