SuperSonics 107, Mavericks 102

Thursday, December 9th 2004, 8:18 pm
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ Rashard Lewis is getting more comfortable with his leadership role with the Seattle SuperSonics. He knows that even if his aim is off early, he has to keep shooting when the game is on the line.

Lewis scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, usually when Seattle needed them most, to lead the SuperSonics past the Dallas Mavericks 107-102 Thursday night.

``I had been struggling with my shot, missing some easy shots, but I kept confident,'' Lewis said. ``My shots were going to fall. ... This year, I know I've got to step up my game at crunch time. I've got to do my part to open things up for my teammates.''

Seattle was able to take control while Lewis was cold, building a lead that remained between seven and 15 points from early in the second quarter until early in the fourth. But Dallas rallied, using a 14-3 spurt to go ahead with 7:08 left.

Lewis quickly answered with a 12-footer in the lane that ended up putting the Sonics ahead for good. Dallas kept making it close, though, and Lewis kept answering _ hitting a high-flying baseline dunk, a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and two free throws with 18.5 seconds remaining.

``Rashard is playing like a man possessed,'' teammate Ray Allen said. ``He's on a mission. He's been a guy who willing to stand back and watch, but this year he's stepping up and is one of the guys at the forefront.''

In the only other NBA games Thursday night, Houston edged San Antonio 81-80, and Portland beat Boston 89-87.

Seattle wrapped up an impressive two-day swing in Texas, becoming the first team this season to win in San Antonio and Dallas. The Sonics have won four straight and nine of 10 to improve to an NBA-best 17-3, a half-game ahead of idle Phoenix.

The Mavs lost for the second time in three games and are just 6-7 since mid-November. This was their fifth home loss, matching last season's total in just 12 games, with all the losses _ and just one of the wins _ coming against winning teams.

``It's still early,'' said Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 27 and came away with a bruised tailbone on a late collision with Seattle's Luke Ridnour. ``We still have a lot of improving to do on both ends of the court.''

Michael Finley, activated from the injured list before the game, tried a 3-pointer with 22.9 seconds left that would've put Dallas up by one. But the ball hit the rim and went out of bounds over the backboard.

``We really fought to get back into the game and take the lead, but it just seemed like they hit big shot after big shot,'' Mavs coach Don Nelson said.

Finley, who had missed 15 games with a sprained ankle, and Jerry Stackhouse both scored 19 points and both had 10 in the final period.

Vladimir Radmanovic added 18 points for Seattle, going 5-of-7 from 3-point range.

Rockets 81, Spurs 80

At Houston, Tracy McGrady hit a running 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left, helping the Rockets complete a rally from a 10-point deficit in the final minute.

McGrady scored 13 points in the final 35 seconds, including four 3-pointers, to finish with 33 points, eight rebounds and five steals in the biggest last-minute comeback for Houston. The Rockets have won three straight for the first time this season, and snapped an eight-game losing streak against their I-10 rivals.

Yao Ming had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets.

Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 26 points and 18 rebounds.

Trail Blazers 89, Celtics 87

At Portland, Ore., Shareef Abdur-Rahim hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to lift the Trail Blazers past Boston.

Abdur-Rahim finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Zazh Randolph had 22 points and 17 rebounds. Gary Payton and Mark Blount had 14 points each for Boston.