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Posted Jan 2 2007 12:44PM
The Dallas Mavericks enter the new year with the NBA's best record. A matchup against the road-weary Seattle SuperSonics gives them a good chance to start 2007 on the right foot.
Dallas looks for its 11th straight win overall and eighth in a row over Seattle when the teams tip off on Tuesday.
The Mavericks (24-7) won a season-high 12 straight from Nov. 9-Dec. 1, two short of the franchise record set when it started the 2002-03 season with 14 wins in a row. Dallas has not lost to the SuperSonics (13-19) since Dec. 9, 2004, holding them to 98 points or less in seven straight games.
Seattle has lost eight straight on the road, matching its longest skid since Nov. 24-Dec. 22, 1991. The Sonics, who will play in Houston on Wednesday, haven't had a 10-game road slide since March 4-29, 1984.
Without Dirk Nowitzki in the lineup due to a sinus infection, Dallas still was able to extend its winning streak after beating Denver 89-85 on Sunday behind 28 points and a season-high 17 rebounds from Josh Howard.
Coach Avery Johnson also set an NBA record for the quickest 100 wins, reaching the milestone in just 131 games.
"This is the top,'' Johnson said. "We could easily have found an excuse for this game, but these guys are playing some tough, hard-nosed basketball.''
Nowitzki's status for this contest in not known, but Howard is proving to be capable of carrying the team. Now in his fourth season from Wake Forest, Howard is shooting 52.9 percent from the floor and averaging 22.1 points during Dallas' latest winning streak.
"I was trying to stay aggressive,'' Howard said after the win over the Nuggets. "But it was more a matter of me going out there and playing my great game.''
Dallas has won 14 of its last 15 at American Airlines Center after beginning its home schedule with two straight losses. Since those defeats, the Mavericks have allowed more than 100 points just once, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 110-101 on Dec. 13.
Seattle avoided a third straight loss by beating Boston 101-95 on Sunday as Chris Wilcox had a season-high 24 points.
"Coach (Bob Hill) got on me the other day and told me I've been going to soft to the basket so today I wanted to capitalize on that,'' Wilcox said. "I went back to my old ways and just finished. My mind-set was just to finish.
"Guys made great plays to get me the ball and I just went strong and finished everything.''
Wilcox is expected to have a more expanded role while Rashard Lewis recovers from a hand injury that is expected to keep him out of action for two months.
"He is definitely a guy who is going to make things easier for us on the perimeter,'' Ray Allen said of Wilcox. "For him to be able to run and get the alley-oops that he's getting now, it's going to take a lot of pressure of us.''
Allen finished with just 15 points after scoring a season-low 14 in a loss to Minnesota on Friday. He leads the team in scoring with 24.7 points per game, and missed a 103-95 home loss to Mavericks on Dec. 20 due to an injured right ankle that sidelined him for nine straight games.
Allen is averaging just 21.9 points over 12 career games in Dallas.
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