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Dirk eclipses 2,000-point season

DALLAS (AP) -- In last year's playoffs, Marquis Daniels was a
rookie starter for the Dallas Mavericks. Going into this
postseason, he's nearly at the end of the bench.

Daniels reminded new coach Avery Johnson to keep him in mind for
the playoff rotation by scoring nine points and handing out a
season-best nine assists, sparking Dallas past the Seattle
SuperSonics 101-96 Tuesday night. It was a milestone-filled home
finale that was almost ruined by a third-quarter collapse.

After letting a 21-point lead turn into a one-point deficit in
about an 8-minute span during the third quarter, Daniels and Shawn
Bradley helped the Mavs recover to win their eighth straight game
and 15th of 17 since Johnson replaced Don Nelson as coach last
month.

The win was their 57th, tying the second-best total in team
history, and it gave them a nine-game home winning streak heading
take into the playoffs. The Mavericls will open the postseason on
Saturday, at home, against Houston.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 21 points, giving him a
career-best 2,016 for the season.

With starting point guard Jason Terry getting the night off to
rest, Daniels had more chances to run the offense and responded
with what Johnson called "a huge effort." As a team, Dallas tied
its season-best with 32 assists.

"I'm just trying to be ready whenever," said Daniels, lost in
the shuffle at point guard behind Terry and rookie Devin Harris and
left out at the two swing spots because of Michael Finley, Josh
Howard, Jerry Stackhouse and Keith Van Horn.

"You always want to play more, but we're winning. I just want
to keep helping the team."

Asked if he was going to remind Johnson about his performance in
last year's playoffs, when the coach wasn't with the club, Daniels
smiled and said, "I think they've got film in there."

Bradley has also made a bid for postseason minutes lately and he
may be needed against 7-foot-5 Yao Ming. Against Seattle's much
smaller frontline, Bradley made his first five shots, including a
hook that restored Dallas' lead. He finished with 12 points and
seven rebounds in 17 minutes.

"I'm just playing hard," he said. "Everyone is. Everyone is
focused on trying to contribute in a positive way."

Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis each had 21 points for Seattle, most
coming during a 14-0 run midway through the wild third quarter.
Luke Ridnour scored all 15 of his points in the second half, but it
wasn't enough to keep the Sonics from taking a 4-9 skid into their
finale in Houston on Wednesday night. They'll open the playoffs
Saturday night against Sacramento.

Seattle came in having won two straight, and they were important
ones -- clinching the Northwest Division title, then homecourt
advantage in the first round. Some bad information had players
thinking they might have an easy shot at three in a row.

"We had heard they weren't going to play their big guys,"
center Jerome James said, "but Avery Johnson did just the
opposite."

Seattle coach Nate McMillan said there was another
misunderstanding.

"I didn't say to take the night off. I said I was going to cut
some guys' minutes," he said.

The Sonics trailed 47-27 before halftime and were down 53-32
early in the third quarter. Then Lewis and Allen got rolling,
getting Seattle within four.

After trading baskets, the Sonics went ahead 64-63 on a steal
and a layup by Reggie Evans. It was short-lived, though, as Bradley
immediately answered then Daniels made a short jumper in
transition. Seattle was within one again until Harris made a 3 at
the third-quarter buzzer.

Nowitzki topped his previous best of 2,011 points. He and Mark
Aguirre are the only players in franchise history to top 2,000;
Nowitzki has done it twice, while Aguirre did it three times,
including a franchise-record 2,330 in 1983-84 when he led the NBA
in scoring.

Darrell Armstrong started in place of Terry and had two points,
four steals and an assist in 18 minutes.

Game notes
Lewis had a four-point play during the third-quarter rally.
... Although the Mavs are the West's fourth seed, they have a
chance at homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals, should they get
that far. If Miami -- which had 58 wins to Dallas' 57 -- loses at
Orlando on Wednesday night and Dallas wins at Memphis, the
Mavericks would have the edge because they won both head-to-head
meetings.