Sonics Run By Mavs

For the first time in the Seattle SuperSonics' five seasons at the Key Arena, they didn't sell out their home opener.

"If we keep winning, the fans will come out and support us," said Gary Payton after the Sonics beat the Dallas Mavericks 106-96 on Thursday night.

After missing the playoffs for the first time in nine years last season, the Sonics drew 16,140 fans into their 17,072-seat home.

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Game Summary

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  • The fans saw the rebuilt Sonics get 22 points apiece from Vin Baker and Vernon Maxwell.

    "We obviously still are feeling the effects of last season," said John Dresel, president of Full House Sports and Entertainment, the business and marketing arm of the Sonics. "We must work hard to show the city that great basketball is back."

    Cedric Ceballos scored 34 points for the Mavericks, who lost to the Sonics in overtime in their home opener last season, which didn't happen until February because of the owners' lockout.

    Payton, who was scoreless at halftime, added 10 points and 13 assists. Baker added 13 rebounds.

    "It seems like a good team to me," said Payton, who averaged 21.7 points to lead the Sonics in scoring last season. "I'm happy with it. If Vernon keeps scoring like he has, I can fade into the background."

    Maxwell averaged 10.7 points and 22 minutes in Sacramento last season, helping the Kings get into the playoffs. He signed with Seattle as a free agent.

    "I like the team and I like my teammates," said Maxwell, who has averaged 25.5 points and 29 minutes in Seattle's 2-0 start. "I'll do whatever they need for me to help this team."

    The Sonics got a dunk on an offensive rebound by Jelani McCoy with 5:29 left, and a steal and dunk by Brent Barry nine seconds later to take a 100-86 lead.

    With a rebuilt roster featuring three new starters, the Sonics got 17 points from new small forward Ruben Patterson and 14 points and 11 rebounds from Horace Grant, the team's new center.

    Grant, 34, played 36 minutes, and Maxwell, also 34, logged 30 minutes.

    Dallas got 15 points from Dirk Nowitzki and 14 from Michael Finley.

    "We're just trying to get some respect along with some wins," said Ceballos, who had a 14-for-23 shooting night. "We can play better, much better."

    Said Dallas coach Don Nelson: "We buried ourselves in the second and third quarters. If we have a bad game by any one guy playing minutes, it's going to be difficult."

    Seattle took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter and Maxwell promptly sank a 3-pointer. Dallas cut its deficit to 84-79 before Rashard Lewis sank two free throws, McCoy hit a five-footer, Lewis scored on a fastbreak layup and McCoy had a dunk to put the Sonics in front 92-79.

    In the third quarter, the Sonics held a 73-58 lead after Baker's dunk with 4:55 left, but the Mavericks cut their deficit to 77-72 on Ceballos' 3-pointer with 1:26 to go.

    Maxwell had 15 points in the second quarter, when the Sonics scored the final eight to take a 56-46 halftime lead. Maxwell, who scored 29 points in Seattle's opener against the Los Angeles Clippers, hit four free throws in the final 1:29.


  • The Mavericks announced the signing of free-agent forward Rick Hughes and asked for waivers on forward Kebu Stewart. Hughes spent the preseason with Utah. Hughes played eight minutes on Thursday night.
  • Payton moved into sole possession of eighth place on the NBA's career free-throw list with 1,700. He went into the game tied with Gus Williams.
  • The Sonics are 21-12 in home openers, including 4-1 at the Key Arena.
  • Dallas hasn't had a winning season since 1989-90. The Mavericks won 19 games last season.
  • The Sonics outrebounded Dallas 58-41.
  • Baker's top rebounding game last season was 12.

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