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Nowitzki carries Mavericks to 11th consecutive win

Jan 3, 2007 - 6:39 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Superstar Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks continue to move full steam ahead.

Nowitzki collected 31 points and a season-high 15 rebounds and Josh Howard added 21 and nine as the Mavericks won their 11th straight game with a 112-88 triumph over the Seattle SuperSonics.

Jason Terry had 18 points and eight assists and Devin Harris scored 16 for Dallas, which grabbed a season-high 58 rebounds and became the first club with two double-figure winning streaks this season.

"That number surprised me when I looked at the box score," Howard said about Dallas' huge rebounding edge. "Guys just came out and hit the glass hard on both ends of the court, and we had a big night."

Dallas also scored a season-high 34 second-chance points.

"I think those are all the little things you have to do if you want to ultimately, our goal is to win a championship," Nowitzki said. "I think all those little things are what we have to get good at. That's really what got us to the Finals last year."

The Mavericks were able to capture a season-high 12 consecutive games from November 9 to December 1 - the second-longest streak in the NBA this season behind the Phoenix Suns' 15.

"We're trying to get the last four in June," Dallas swingman Greg Buckner said. "So these winning streaks are good right now, but it's not special until we win four games in the last series of the season."

Nowitzki, who was a game-time decision with a sinus infection that caused him to miss Sunday's game, made 10-of-18 shots and sank 10-of-11 free throws. He has reached the 30-point plateau five times this season.

"I think it was more the fever I had than the sinus infection that kept me out (Sunday)," Nowitzki said. "I had a great day just sleeping. I got some rest, I got some home cooking from my mom. I felt a lot better this morning coming in, got a little sweat worked up and felt great."

"Dirk's a warrior," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "He came back and was strong. We will try to keep him strong."

With a 78-72 advantage already in hand, Dallas added to its lead with an impressive 15-3 burst to begin the fourth quarter. The trio of Howard, Buckner and Erick Dampier combined for 11 points in the surge.

"Whatever we had in the first half - the togetherness and the toughness - we didn't have that in the second half," SuperSonics coach Bob Hill said. "It all fell apart in the fourth quarter."

It was the 10th straight game Dallas has held an opponent under 100 points.

"It's been real important," Howard said. "Guys have been going out onto the court and selling out on the defensive end. We're trying to get stops every time down, and then, when we do make a stop, convert on the offensive end of the floor."

Sharpshooter Ray Allen scored 27 points and Earl Watson had 15 off the bench for the Sonics, who shot 42 percent (32-of-76) from the floor.

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