Allen finishes winning night with 35

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Seattle crowd cheered all night for Gary
Payton and roared at the end for Ray Allen.

Allen scored 35 points and hit a layup with 5.8 seconds to play,
lifting the SuperSonics to a 111-109 win over the Los Angeles
Lakers on Friday night in Payton's first game in Seattle since
being traded away last February after 12{ seasons.

"I love Seattle," Payton said. "I was here for 12 years. It
was nice to see they appreciated me."

In the end, though, the night belonged to Allen -- who was traded
for Payton in a blockbuster deal at last season's trade deadline.
The outcome provided closure for fans who lashed out at the Sonics
organization after the deal.

"Rightfully so, fans have the right to love their
superheroes," Allen said. "This is one of those games that needed
to happen. I looked at the calendar and knew it was going to be a
tough game, for obvious reasons."

Bryant scored 18 of his 32 points in the fourth period, but he
missed a 3-pointer that would have won it at the buzzer. Fans and
Sonics players broke into pandemonium when Rashard Lewis collected
the rebound.

"Just an unbelievable game by both teams," Seattle coach Nate
McMillan said.

Payton scored a season-high 24 points with five assists and five
rebounds, but it couldn't prevent the Sonics from their third
straight win over the Lakers.

Los Angeles didn't have Karl Malone, who hasn't played since
Dec. 21 because of a sprained knee ligament, and lost Shaquille
O'Neal early in the second quarter when a strained right calf
flared up.

"He couldn't push off his calf," Lakers coach Phil Jackson
said. "We took him in the locker room and word came back from the
trainer that he wouldn't be back tonight. I can't tell you any more
than that right now."

O'Neal, averaging 20.6 points and 11.8 rebounds, played only 14
minutes, scoring six points with five rebounds.

"The Glove," who joined the Lakers as a free agent last
summer, remains Seattle's franchise leader in scoring, assists,
steals, games played, minutes and several other statistical

Payton was the first player introduced and received a standing
ovation of just over a minute. Sonics chairman Howard Schultz, who
feuded with Payton last season, stood to applaud from his courtside

Fans posted signs that read, "G.P.: Greatest Sonic of all
time," "Welcome Home Gary" and "We'll Always Love the Glove."

"It was very gratifying," Payton said. "The fact is that fans
appreciated me that much. The fans gave me appreciation for the
years I gave them here, and I always respected them the same way."

It was a thrilling finish. Seattle led 106-102 after two foul
shots by Lewis and a bank shot by Allen, but Bryant hit a 3-pointer
and Payton made one of two free throws to tie it with 1:11 to go.

Allen swished a 3-pointer from the left side with 36.4 to play,
then had Bryant smothered in the left corner at the other end.

But Bryant calmly hit a 3-pointer of his own, sending a groan
through the sold-out arena when his shot fell as he backed into the
Sonics bench. That tied it at 109 with 22.8 seconds remaining.

After a Seattle timeout, Allen brought the ball downcourt,
worked 10 seconds off the clock, swung around a screen for Bryant
and split two defenders for a layup that went in with 5.8 seconds
on the clock.

"It was amazing, with Gary on the floor and the atmosphere,"
Allen said. "That why I play the game of basketball."

Lewis scored 20 and Brent Barry had 12 points and 11 assists for

Slava Medvenenko added 14 points for Los Angeles.

Game notes
Jackson said Malone wasn't placed on the injured list
because F Rick Fox (foot surgery) isn't ready to come off the list.
... How close were the teams? Four minutes into the fourth quarter,
each had shot an identical 36-of-73 from the floor. ... Bryant was
booed every time he touched the ball or checked in. ... Payton's
pregame ovation would have been longer, but the announcer continued
the introductions. ... The Sonics have won four of five since
Allen's return after ankle surgery.

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