SEATTLE – Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Seattle SuperSonics 106-75 in a meaningless game Wednesday night.
Seattle coach Bob Hill, who is rumored to be fired in the coming days, played all but one of his eligible 11 players as Seattle (31-51) posted its worst record since also finishing the 1985-86 season at 31-51.
Dallas coach Avery Johnson, one day after playing his “C” team in a blowout loss to Golden State, played his normal starters during a final tuneup before the top-seeded Mavericks’ first-round playoff series beginning this weekend. The Mavericks, who tied for the sixth-best record in NBA history at 67-15, clinched the Western Conference’s top seed April 9.
The loss may have helped Seattle’s draft chances. Seattle entered the night in sole possession of the fifth spot for the lottery with an 11 percent chance of obtaining the No. 1 pick.
Seattle majority owner Clay Bennett will decide soon – perhaps by week’s end – whether Hill or general manager Rick Sund will return next season. Bennett has been in New York trying to find private investors for his proposed $500 million arena in the Seattle suburb of Renton, now that state lawmakers have declined to vote on a public financing plan. Bennett will attend an NBA Board of Governors meeting today and Friday in New York.
Sund, who began his NBA management career in the mid-1970s with the Milwaukee Bucks, was hired under previous ownership in 2001 by Wally Walker. Walker left the franchise soon after Bennett agreed to purchase it last July from a group led by Starbucks Corp. chairman Howard Schultz.
Hill, a former coach in New York, Indiana and San Antonio, is finishing his first full season coaching the Sonics. The team picked up his one-year contract option at the end of last season, which began with Hill as an assistant to Bob Weiss. Hill replaced the fired Weiss on Jan. 3, 2006, and finished last season 22-30.
Nowitzki, who played 25 minutes, was 7 for 11 from the field with five rebounds and five assists.
Seattle Rashard Lewis, expected to opt out of his contract and become a highly sought-after free agent, had 14 points. The lanky 6-foot-10 Lewis will turn 28 this summer and is entering his prime as an experienced, multitalented veteran with nine NBA seasons – all with Seattle.
Dallas, which led 61-37 at halftime, led by as many as 33.
Hill was jovial and lighthearted in addressing the media before the game, and even told stories about Johnson during his playing days under Hill in San Antonio. When asked whether he thinks he’ll be back as Sonics coach next season, Hill quipped: “That’s not for me to say. That’s for Clay Bennett and the powers that be.” … Dallas center Kevin Willis, at 44 the league’s oldest active player, got into the mix with a few seconds to go in the first half by beating Chris Wilcox on the block for an easy layup to give the Mavericks a 24-point advantage. The 21-year veteran, who signed a 10-day contract April 3, had six points in 14 minutes.
Mavericks 106, SuperSonics 75
Percentages: FG .531, FT .889. 3-Point Goals: 4-13, .308 (Terry 2-3, Buckner 1-1, Howard 1-3, Nowitzki 0-1, Stackhouse 0-1, Barea 0-1, George 0-1, Croshere 0-2). Team Rebounds: 6. Team Turnovers: 10 (6 PTS). Blocked Shots: 5 (Diop 5). Turnovers: 9 (Diop 2, Stackhouse 2, Howard, Terry, Barea, Croshere, Willis). Steals: 7 (Dev.Harris, Howard, Stackhouse, Terry, Buckner, George, Willis). Technical Fouls: Defensive Three Second, 2:52 first; Defensive Three Second, 1:19 second.
Percentages: FG .420, FT .667. 3-Point Goals: 1-7, .143 (Ras.Lewis 1-3, Wilkins 0-1, Brown 0-1, Gelabale 0-2). Team Rebounds: 13. Team Turnovers: 18 (26 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Collison, Wilcox, Brown). Turnovers: 16 (Wilkins 4, Wilks 4, Ras.Lewis 2, Gelabale 2, Collison, Wilcox, Sene, Brown). Steals: 5 (Wilkins 3, Ras.Lewis, Gelabale). Technical Fouls: Ras.Lewis, 3:14 second.
A—16,117 (17,072). T—2:04.