Croshere had a career-high 34 points and seven rebounds as the Mavericks beat the Seattle SuperSonics 122-102 on Tuesday night, stretching their home winning streak to 14 games.
Dallas is two wins shy of the franchise record for consecutive home wins, set last season.
Croshere, who began the night averaging 2.9 points per game, played 24 minutes as a reserve in Howard's absence after scoring in double figures only twice in his first 21 games this season.
Acquired in an offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers, Croshere went 11-for-14 from the field, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range, and finished tied for 12th in franchise history for bench points.
"With Josh not here, I had a chance to get in early," Croshere said. "I was just trying to stay ready for the opportunity to play. I got the chance and I played well."
Ray Allen had 35 points, 19 in the first half, for Seattle, which tied a single-season club record with its 13th consecutive road defeat. Nick Collison and Earl Watson both had 15 points for the Sonics.
Croshere, who set a career-high for 3-pointers, had his previous career-high of 32 points for the Pacers in a game against the Mavericks on Feb. 5, 2002.
Howard is Dallas' second-leading scorer (19.4 points per game) and third-leading rebounder (7.2). Minus Howard, the Mavericks needed more minutes from Croshere, who didn't see any action the previous four games. Croshere had a total of 15 points in the first four games he played in January.
Croshere can't wait to meet and thank Howard's child for the playing time.
"I'm going to give the kid high-five," Croshere said with a laugh.
Nowitzki, who started the night averaging 25.3 points and 9.6 rebounds, finished with 15 points and six rebounds. Nowitzki was 3-for-12 from the field.
But Dallas got a season-high 63 points off the bench led by Croshere and Buckner.
"It was a great night for Cro," Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse said. "Everybody's been pulling for him. He's been very supportive of us. Josh was out and Dirk didn't have a great game, but it didn't matter. Cro was our MVP tonight."
Croshere capped a 13-4 run spanning the late third and early fourth quarters with a three-point play and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to give Dallas a 91-82 lead with 10:37 left.
Croshere added another 3 with 7:54 left to stretch the Mavericks' lead 100-88.
Dallas took a 66-54 halftime lead with its highest scoring half this season.
The Mavericks shot 58 percent from the field in the first half and had four double-figure scorers led by Terry's 13.
Seattle rallied to tie twice in the third quarter before fading down the stretch.
"We really pressed them," Sonics coach Bob Hill said. "It was a five-point game but we couldn't sustain it in the fourth quarter."
Hill said he wasn't surprised at Croshere's big game.
"He's capable of doing what he did," Hill said. "That's how their team is made up. He's paid to do that."
|Avery Johnson and the Mavs' bench appreciate Austin Croshere's performance in place of Josh Howard. (AP)|
|Dallas (37-9) «||28||38||19||37||122|
|SEA:R. Allen 35 Pts
SEA:N. Collison 9 Reb
SEA:R. Allen 7 Ast
|DAL:A. Croshere 34 Pts
DAL:A. Croshere 7 Reb
DAL:J. Stackhouse 4 Ast
|Players of the Game|
Dallas Mavericks 2011 NBA Finals Bumper Sticker
$1.99 Shop Now!
|R. Allen, SG||39||14-24||4-5||6||7||5||35|
|C. Wilcox, PF||32||4-13||4-4||7||1||4||12|
|E. Watson, PG||31||7-9||0-0||1||6||1||15|
|N. Collison, C||28||6-10||3-3||9||0||4||15|
|M. Gelabale, SF||24||2-6||0-0||4||0||1||4|
|D. Wilkins, SF||31||2-7||4-4||8||4||2||8|
|J. Petro, C||21||2-5||0-0||7||2||3||4|
|L. Ridnour, PG||17||0-5||0-0||1||0||4||0|
|A. Brown, F||10||3-6||1-1||3||0||0||7|
|M. Wilks, PG||3||1-1||0-0||0||2||0||2|
|M. Sene, C||2||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|D. Fortson, PF||Did Not Play|
|R. Lewis, SF||Did Not Play|
|R. Swift, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|J. Terry, PG||35||6-10||5-6||3||4||0||19|
|D. Nowitzki, PF||31||3-12||9-10||6||1||1||15|
|D. Harris, PG||28||5-8||6-6||2||4||1||16|
|D. George, SF||25||4-8||0-0||1||1||2||9|
|E. Dampier, C||21||0-1||0-0||4||3||0||0|
|G. Buckner, SG||33||8-11||0-0||1||3||4||17|
|A. Croshere, PF||24||11-14||5-5||7||3||2||34|
|D. Diop, C||17||0-1||1-2||5||0||2||1|
|J. Stackhouse, SF||16||2-8||0-1||3||4||0||4|
|A. Johnson, PG||8||2-3||0-0||0||1||2||4|
|D. Mbenga, C||1||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|M. Ager, SG||1||1-1||0-0||1||1||0||3|
|J. Howard, SF||Did Not Play|
|P. Mensah-Bonsu, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Barea, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|