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Finley leads fourth-quarter surge

DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks got a big game from a likely
source -- Michael Finley. Rookie Marquis Daniels gave the Mavericks
an unlikely bonus in his third career start.

Finley scored 35 points, 20 in the fourth quarter, and Daniels
had 14 points, nine assists and nine rebounds as the Mavericks
stretched their winning streak to six games with a 107-96 victory
over the Seattle SuperSonics on Tuesday night.

With starting point guard Steve Nash out (stomach flu) and
leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki struggling to find his shooting touch
(7-for-19 from the field), Finley and Daniels bailed out the
Mavericks.

"That was quite a test for us and we passed," Dallas coach Don
Nelson said. "Marquis played quite a game for a guy that stepped
in when we needed him. He almost had a triple-double ... Finley
stepped up and carried us through the whole game."

Finley had 11 points -- four jumpers and a 3-pointer -- in a
decisive 22-1 fourth-quarter run. Finley's 20-point fourth quarter
came during Dallas' season-high 38-point fourth quarter.

"In the first two quarters with Steve being out, I knew I had
to be more assertive," Finley said. "I was maybe a little bit too
assertive. In the fourth quarter, I just let everything come to
me."

The 6-6 Daniels, normally a shooting guard but subbing for Nash
at the point because backup Travis Best is on the injured list due
to an inflamed Achilles' tendon, had career-highs for assists,
rebounds and minutes (45).

"I knew I had to make a quick adjustment," said Daniels, a
free agent from Auburn. "I was just happy to get my chance to play
and contribute and my teammates showed a lot of confidence in me."

Nelson said Nash will also miss Wednesday night's game at
Minnesota.

Antawn Jamison added 21 points and Nowitzki had 19 points and 12
rebounds for the Mavericks, who completed an unbeaten five-game
homestand.

Ray Allen's 25 points, Ronald Murray's 19 points and Rashard
Lewis' 14 points and 11 rebounds paced the SuperSonics, who've lost
four of five.

The Mavericks won their eighth in a row at home heading into a
three-game road trip against playoff contenders Minnesota, San
Antonio and Houston.

Murray's 15-footer with 1:52 left got the Sonics as close as
98-94.

But Finley converted two free throws, then hit a jumper in the
lane with 1:04 remaining to push Dallas' edge to 102-94.

Seattle held a 77-70 advantage with 10:33 to play on Allen's
layup before Dallas rallied with a 10-0 run capped by Jamison's
three-point play with 8:52 left to take command, 80-77.

After the Sonics got a free throw from Jerome James, the
Mavericks tacked on 12 more unanswered points.

The Sonics were unable to contend with Finley, who 13-for-25
from the floor and converted all six free throws.

"We didn't have an answer for Finley," said Allen, who guarded
Finley most of the night. "That was our demise. We had played a
pretty good game up to that point."

Seattle took a 71-69 lead into the fourth quarter on Murray's
14-foot jumper with 18 seconds left in the third quarter.

But the Sonics were able to convert only 10 of 26 fourth-quarter
field goal attempts, missing 10 straight during Dallas' big run.

"I thought we had some open looks that we didn't knock down,"
Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "We some easy baskets that we
needed to make."

Seattle led throughout the first half, going up by as many as
eight with 5:29 left in the second quarter. But Dallas closed with
a 14-4 run capped by Nowitzki's dunk with 35 seconds left in the
second quarter for a 47-45 halftime advantage.

Game notes
Mavericks rookie F Josh Howard missed his second straight
game due to a strained right groin. ...Sonics G Antonio Daniels had
his ribs X-rayed at halftime after a second-quarter collision with
burly Mavericks C Danny Fortson. X-rays were negative and Daniels
was back on the floor in the third quarter. ...Nelson used his 18th
different starting lineup in Dallas' 59th game. He used a total of
18 lineups all of last season. ...The Mavericks held a 54-42
rebounding edge. Dallas has outrebounded the opposition in its last
eight games and 15 of its last 19.