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Nowitzki, Mavericks cruise by Sonics, get ready for playoffs

Apr 19, 2007 - 6:16 AM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- After resting in a blowout loss the day before, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks handed out some punishment of their own.

Nowitzki scored 20 points and fellow All-Star Josh Howard added 15 as the Mavericks posted a 106-75 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics, who they've beaten 10 consecutive times.

Jerry Stackhouse had 13 points off the bench and Jason Terry added 12 and five assists for Dallas, which began the game with its starting five after resting them the night before in a 111-82 beating by the Golden State Warriors.

Nowitzki was 7-of-11 from the floor for the Mavericks, who led by 17 at the end the first quarter, 27 at halftime and by 30 to start the final period.

"We have earned the right to be confident going into the playoffs," Nowitzki said. "We are confident and know that we can beat pretty much anybody."

Dallas (67-15), which swept Seattle for the second straight season, will play eighth-seeded Golden State (42-40) to begin the first round of the playoffs this weekend.

"This was a very exciting season," said Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, whose team tied the 1985-86 Boston Celtics, the 1991-92 Chicago Bulls and the 1999-00 L.A. Lakers for the sixth-best record in NBA history. "A lot of our people should take pride. Yes, we are here to win in the playoffs and yes we want to win a championship, but at the same time the regular season does matter."

The Warriors were the only team to sweep the Mavericks this season, winning all three games.

"This has been a great run and now it is time to really take care of business," Terry said. "We have worked really hard to position ourselves to have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. It starts with Game One against the Warriors."

Rashard Lewis scored 14 points and and reserve Andre Brown added 12 for the Sonics (32-50), who finished the season losing five straight and nine of their last 10.

"I'm just going home to Houston to relax and then go on vacation," said Lewis, who can opt out of the last two years of his contract and become a free agent this summer. "Seattle is my number one option. Obviously I want to come back. I'm at the point in my career that I have to treat it like a business."

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