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Veteran Harper, New Guys Team Up for Maverick Win

December 29, 1996|Associated Press

DALLAS — The new guys all chipped in, but it was the oldest Maverick, Derek Harper, who paced the Dallas Mavericks to a 95-90 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics Saturday night.

Harper, taking Jason Kidd's spot in the starting lineup, scored 24 points, his season high, with 21 coming in the first half.

"We were relieved because all the changes were behind us," said Harper, who returned to the Mavericks as a free agent in the off-season. "We gained an edge from it because all the speculation was over."

The Mavericks appeared to play looser than they have in weeks after Thursday's trade of Kidd, once considered Dallas' franchise player, to the Phoenix Suns for Sam Cassell, Michael Finley and A.C. Green. This was the Mavericks' first game since the trade.

Coach Jim Cleamons had all three players acquired in the deal on the court together to start the second quarter. They were warmly greeted by the Reunion Arena crowd.

But it was Harper who headed a second-quarter surge with 10 points as the Mavericks opened a 60-42 halftime lead.

Dallas was up by 14 in the fourth quarter before the SuperSonics came back to tie the score. But George McCloud made two key baskets down the stretch as Dallas stopped Seattle's five-game winning streak.

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