DALLAS (AP) _ Mavericks forward Josh Howard sprained his right ankle midway through the first quarter of the Western Conference finals opener against Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Howard walked off the court gingerly with 6:01 left in the first quarter. X-rays showed there was no break, but the team listed his return as doubtful.

He scored six points on 3-of-4 shooting during his brief action.

Howard's versatility and defensive prowess make him potentially a key figure this series. Plus, Dallas is 21-0 this season when he scores at least 20 points, including twice in the playoffs.