Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 1/2

Game 1: Friday, January 2nd
Game 2: Wednesday, January 28th
Game 3: Friday, March 5th
Game 4: Friday, April 2nd

Lakers 109

(21-8, 6-6 away)

SuperSonics 111

(16-14, 8-8 home)

    7:30 PM ET, January 2, 2004

    Key Arena, Seattle, WA

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 25 30 27 27109
    SEA 25 31 30 25111

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles: K. Bryant 32 Pts, 6 Reb, 6 Ast, 4 Stl

    Seattle: R. Allen 35 Pts, 9 Ast, 3 Stl

    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 categories.

    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 seat.

    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 Seattle.

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 109 111
    FGM-FGA 42-87 (.483) 41-86 (.477)
    3PM-3PA 7-18 (.389) 12-33 (.364)
    FTM-FTA 18-23 (.783) 17-20 (.850)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-37 11-40
    Assists 19 25
    Turnovers 14 16
    Steals 10 8
    Blocks 3 1
    Fast Break Points 7 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 25 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Kobe Bryant Bryant
    Points: 32
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Ray Allen Allen
    Points: 35
    Reb: 0
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0