After a shaky start to the season, the Dallas Mavericks appear to be back on track.
The Mavericks seek their season-best sixth straight win on Friday when they visit the Seattle SuperSonics, who haven't beaten them in more than three years.
Dallas (24-11) started the season a disappointing 12-8 but is 12-3 since then. The Mavericks beat Detroit, the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, 102-86 on Wednesday for their third five-game winning streak of the season.
"We're starting to get better every month and that was our goal after we had a suspect month of November and December," said reigning league MVP Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 23 points and shot 10-of-15 from the floor.
If recent history is any indication, the Mavericks won't have much trouble keeping their winning streak alive. Dallas has won 10 straight against the SuperSonics (9-26), including all six road meetings since Seattle native Jason Terry joined the team in 2004-05.
Nowitzki has led the Mavericks in scoring in each of their last 10 games and is averaging 25.4 points over his last 11. Devin Harris chipped in 19 points against the Pistons, and reserves Terry and Jerry Stackhouse each scored 15 points and made three 3-pointers.
"Everybody contributed," Stackhouse said. "We came out with a lot of focus. We had good carry-over from practice, and good carry-over from the first half."
Erick Dampier, who returned after missing the previous two games with a swollen left knee, continued his strong play, making all three of his shots to extend his streak of consecutive made baskets to a team-record 14. Since missing all three shots against Cleveland on Dec. 27, he has had games of 6-for-6, 5-for-5 and 4-for-4.
"I'm trying to do things like rebound and present myself on offense and make free throws," Dampier said. "Every win is a confidence-builder for us. We're trying to build on this. We're working as a unit."
Dallas has also been strong on defense, holding 12 of its last 14 opponents under 100 points. The Sonics, meanwhile, have averaged just 87.8 points while losing their last five games, including Wednesday's 99-88 defeat at New Jersey.
Johan Petro matched his career high with 22 points off the bench, and rookie Kevin Durant added 15 despite spraining his ankle a day earlier. Durant leads all NBA rookies with a team-high 19.9 points per game.
"We've hit a bit of a lull," said Nick Collison, who matched his season high with 18 points. "We haven't had the extra spark we need.
"Earlier, we competed hard. Being a young team we are going to have to play harder than the other team to win. We haven't done that the last few games. It's not a situation where it is God-awful and everyone is dogging it. But we need the extra push and fire to win games."
The Sonics are returning home for two games after four games on the road. They are 5-11 on their own floor this season.
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