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Terry, Howard propel Mavericks to win over Sonics

Apr 9, 2008 - 4:33 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks won a game they desperately needed to win on Sunday. They made sure that effort didn't go to waste two days later.

Jason Terry scored 22 points and Josh Howard added 17, leading the Mavericks to a 99-83 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Tuesday.

Dallas (49-29), which held the Phoenix Suns to nine fourth-quarter points in a 105-98 on Sunday, further solidified its place in the playoff picture with a win over Seattle.

The win gives the Mavericks a 2 1/2-game cushion over idle eighth-place Denver (46-31) and keeps them locked into the seventh seed with three games left.

"It was a big emotional game that we had on Sunday, and I could sense kind of early that we were a little lethargic," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "But, we tried to sub guys in and out and keep everybody fresh and, hopefully, because of that we had a little bit more left in the tank, especially in the fourth quarter."

"They came out fighting and we have to give credit to (the Sonics) for their aggressiveness, but we had to protect our home court," Mavericks reserve forward Brandon Bass said. "It was a big win for us."

Seattle, coming off a double-overtime marathon win on Sunday over the Denver Nuggets, hung tough with the Mavericks through 2 1/2 quarters until Terry and Howard each scored two points to turn a one-point lead into a 58-53 advantage.

"We knew we hadn't played well in the first half and this was a dangerous team," Terry said. "They don't have anything to play for right now but pride and they were out there free-wheeling, playing loose and having fun and that's what they did to us in the first half.

"(When) we got down to business and got serious in the second half, we really put it on them."

After Francisco Elson scored to cut the lead to three, Jason Kidd scored four straight points to give the Mavericks a seven-point cushion - the same advantage they enjoyed after three quarters at 70-63.

Earl Watson, who scored 22 points for Seattle, hit two baskets at the beginning of the fourth to keep the Sonics within reach, but Dirk Nowitzki hit two jumpers - including a 3-pointer - to key an 18-4 run that left the Mavericks with a comfortable 91-71 bulge with 4:07 remaining.

"When Dirk hit those two big shots - especially that three - which really ignited us and got us going," Terry said. "And then we got several stops and I was able to run out on the break and J-Kidd hit me with some nice passes, so defense creates offense and that was a good way for us to close out the ballgame."

"It is always important to finish games strong," Johnson said. "Even though you want to get off to great starts and finish strong and have both of those situations occur, if you can hang in there in the first quarter, and then finish strong, that is a good thing and our men were really focused and they turned it up."

Bass continued his strong recent play with 13 points while Nowitzki added 12 rebounds for the Mavericks, who have won four of their last five games.

Rookie Kevin Durant tallied 16 points for Seattle, which has lost six of its last seven contests.