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Slumping Nets road-weary after four losses

SEATTLE (AP) -- Even as they lose players to injury, the Seattle
SuperSonics keep winning games.

Gary Payton scored with 34.9 seconds left and finished with 21
points as the Seattle SuperSonics beat the New Jersey Nets 96-90 on
Saturday night.

The Sonics won their fourth straight game and dealt New Jersey
its fourth straight road loss.

This week, the Sonics lost rookie Vladimir Radmanovic because of
a sprained toe on his right foot, and guard Earl Watson to a
separated shoulder. Vin Baker is still on the injured list.

No matter. The Sonics have won 11 of 13 and are a season-high
nine games above .500.

Reserve Desmond Mason scored 21 points, and Rashard Lewis added

Sonics coach Nate McMillan credited the contributions of his
role players.

"They have this feeling of believing," McMillan said. "The
chemistry has been right and the guys are working together and
playing good basketball."

Brent Barry said the key to success has been the Sonics' ability
to play their roles.

"You don't see Jerome James shooting 3s because Radmanovic is
out," Barry said. "Guys aren't trying to do more than they are
capable of and that's all the coaching staff is asking."

Keith Van Horn scored 21 points, and Kerry Kittles added 19 for
the Nets. Jason Kidd finished with eight points and 10 assists for
New Jersey.

A dunk by Van Horn gave the Nets a 90-89 lead with 1:05 left,
but Seattle scored the final seven points of the game to seal the

Rashard Lewis made two free throws with 1:02 left to give the
Sonics a 91-90 lead.

After a miss by the Nets, Payton grabbed the rebound and beat
Kidd on a baseline drive to give Seattle a 93-90 lead.

"I went quick with it, and I surprised him," Payton said. "He
was leaning and he couldn't get to me and I went by him."

Payton added a free throw and Mason scored on a dunk off a lob
from Payton for final margin.

Kidd hit a 3-pointer to give the Nets an 86-84 lead. Kenyon
Martin flung Mason to the floor while the ball was in the air and
was whistled for a foul.

Mason made both free throws to tie the game at 86 with 2:50

Jason Collins scored three points and the Nets closed the third
quarter with an 8-2 run, tying the game at 70.

The Nets finished 9-for-16 from the line, while Seattle made 22
of 25 free throws.

Kidd said this game followed a pattern that has haunted the Nets
on their road trip.

"We had good looks, good opportunities and didn't get stops
when we needed to," Kidd said.

Nets coach Byron Scott said the Nets missed several chances to
win games on the road trip.

"We blew opportunities to win games," Scott said. "It was a
bad trip."

The Nets rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit. Van Horn
scored on a tip-in as New Jersey closed within 49-48 by the break.

Van Horn had 15 points in the first half, and Kidd had eight

New Jersey led just once in the first half, 44-43, on Aaron
Williams' dunk with 1:37 left.

The Sonics charged to a 19-9 lead after seven minutes.

Game notes
Vladimir Radmanovic is out for one to two weeks because of a
sprained big toe on his right foot. The Sonics are 11-3 when
Radmanovic is in the starting lineup. ... Since the start of the
91-92 season, the Nets have won only one of 11 games in Seattle.
...The two teams split the season series.


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