Payton scored 26 points Monday night, leading the Sonics to
their eighth victory in nine games, 100-88 over the Chicago Bulls.
"I rushed my first few shots, and I realized I had to slow down
because the shots were there," said Payton, who was 4-for-10 from
the field in the first quarter and 8-for-15 thereafter.
Payton said the Sonics, who had 15 steals, planned for Chicago's
use of the triple-post offense.
"We knew we would play the triangle, so we started jumping into
the passing lanes," Payton said.
The Sonics also dominated the Bulls inside, getting 48 points in
"We wanted to go low because they were giving us single
coverage," Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. "As long as that's
what they do, we'll go low."
"They caught us a few times for easy baskets in transition,"
Cartwright said. "We have to go back and clean that up."
The Bulls led by as many as nine in the first quarter and shot
63 percent from the field on their way to a 25-20 lead.
A pair of dunks by Tyson Chandler extended Chicago's lead to
31-20 early in the second before Seattle scored on eight consecutive possessions and went on a 17-2 run to take a 43-38 lead with 4:38
left in the half.
The Sonics led 47-46 at the half despite 57 percent shooting by
the Bulls. Lewis had 10 points and four steals.
Seattle boosted its lead quickly in the third as Chicago turned
over the ball three times on its first four possessions. Layups or
dunks from Baker, Brent Barry and two from Payton made it 55-48.
Payton scored 10 points in the quarter, all on layups or free
throws. The Bulls had seven turnovers in the period, and the Sonics
turned the mistakes into 12 points. Seattle led 72-63 after three.
"Gary was doing a lot of fading away in the first half,"
McMillan said. "But then he started going to the basket."
The Sonics later led by as many as 21.
Bulls starters Brad Miller (sore left hand) and Greg
Anthony (flu) missed the game. ... To improve his club's
poor 70 percent free-throw shooting, Cartwright hired the
best free-throw shooter in the world to tutor his players. Dr. Tom
Amberry, a 79-year-old podiatrist and Guinness record-holder with
2,750 consecutive made free throws -- which he accomplished at age 71 -- will work with the club through the week. Ron Artest and Marcus
Fizer, along with rookies Trenton Hassell, Eddy Curry and Tyson
Chandler, are all worse than 70 percent foul-shooters. "I'm as
skeptical as the next guy," said Cartwright, who met Amberry
through a friend in San Francisco, near the doctor's home. "But my
suggestion is, if you're shooting less than 70 percent, you should
give him some time." ... Bulls guard Jamal Crawford's recovery
from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament continues to go well,
and he expects to be back in six weeks. ... Bulls' forward Eddie Robinson
shot around Monday night as he recovers from chronic pain in his
left big toe. ... Seattle is two games over .500 for the first time
this year. ... The crowd of 15,532 was the smallest ever in the
United Center and the lowest total for a Bulls home game since
April 7, 1987 when the team played in Chicago Stadium.
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