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Croshere's career-high performance leads Mavs past Sonics

Jan 31, 2007 - 6:51 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Coach Avery Johnson needed someone to step up and Austin Croshere answered the call in a huge way.

Croshere scored a career-high 34 points off the bench as the Dallas Mavericks posted a 122-102 victory over the lowly Seattle SuperSonics.

With superstar Dirk Nowitzki struggling and Josh Howard missing the game due to the birth of his first child, Croshere took full advantage of his rare playing time.

"It felt good. I got in there early and was able to hit a shot," Croshere said. "With Josh not being here, I thought there might be that chance that I might get in. I think it's a matter of staying ready for an opportunity.

"You win 20 out of 22 games, you don't look to make a lot of changes. So I haven't gotten many opportunities here lately. But I've been feeling pretty good with where I was and I was able to get that chance and play well."

The 6-10 Croshere made 11-of-14 shots - including 7-of-10 from 3-point range - and made all five free throws. He also finished with seven rebounds and three assists.

"The guys on the team have been supportive of me even though I haven't been playing much," Croshere said. "We brought in four guys this summer to help with the depth on this team and everybody can't play every night. It's just a matter of staying ready and making the most of the opportunities when you get them. I think that the guys were obviously very happy for me."

It was Croshere's best performance since his 32-point outburst as a member of the Indiana Pacers on February 5, 2002, against Dallas.

"That one was an overtime game in 2002 at Indiana," Croshere said. "I shot one over Dirk to get to 32. I don't know if I had 34 points all season before."

The Mavericks held a slim three-point lead before pulling away for good. Croshere scored 11 of his 18 fourth-quarter points during a commanding 19-6 surge to extend the lead to 104-88 with 6:43 remaining.

"This is the NBA. They get paid to do a job," Johnson said. "He (Croshere) gets paid to take shots and to make shots. Fortunately, he made most of them."

"He (Croshere) was called upon and he gave us a big lift off the bench," said Dallas guard Devin Harris, who scored 16 points.

Jason Terry scored 19 points and reserve Greg Buckner chipped in a season-best 17 for Dallas, which improved to 21-3 at American Airlines Center this season.

"We were happy that we had the guys that stepped up and did what they did," Mavs swingman Jerry Stackhouse said. "(Buckner) was big off the bench."

Nowitzki failed to notch his ninth consecutive double-double, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds. He made just 3-of-12 shots.

Ray Allen scored 35 points and Earl Watson and Nick Collison each added 15 for the Sonics, who shot 47 percent (41-of-87) from the field and have dropped three of four games overall.

"The game was a lot closer than the final score," Allen said. "It was a weird game to put my finger on because we were right there for the majority of the game. I think there was just the point where offensively they kept going to the free-throw line or they would score and we would have empty trips."

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