Sonics win battle of conference leaders

SEATTLE (AP) -- In a matchup of conference leaders, the Seattle
SuperSonics thought the Indiana Pacers would run out of steam when
it counted most.

They were right.

Rashard Lewis scored 22 points, Ray Allen had 19 points and a
season-high nine assists and the SuperSonics beat the Indiana
Pacers 103-95 on Sunday night. Seattle's reserves outscored the
Pacers' 45-4.

"We just tried to push the ball and keep pressure on them,"
Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. "We knew they had a short bench
and hoped that would be a factor. I thought the second half, they
looked like they were a little fatigued."

Reserves Vladimir Radmanovic and Antonio Daniels each added 14
points for the Western Conference-leading Sonics, who won their
fourth straight in improving their NBA-best record to 13-2. Seattle
also remained undefeated at home.

It's the Sonics' best start since the 1993-94 season, when they
were 14-1.

Radmanovic said it was important for the reserves to provide
some help for the slender Lewis and Allen, who each played 41

"For sure, you can't have two guys playing 48 minutes a full
season long," Radmanovic said. "They've been well for us and
we're going to continue to feed them. But some nights, it's going
to be somebody else who has to step up."

Lewis played with a strained left shoulder that was packed in
ice after the game. He said he consciously avoided mixing it up too
much inside against the Pacers.

"It was sore," Lewis said of his shoulder. "I knew I could go
out and still be capable of things I'm able to do because I shoot
with my right hand. But the main thing was just trying to be
careful going for rebounds with my left hand."

James Jones scored a career-high 27 points for the Eastern
Conference-leading Pacers (10-4). Indiana, depleted by injuries and
suspensions, had its three-game winning streak stopped.

The Pacers fell to 3-2 since losing Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal
and Stephen Jackson with suspensions for the Nov. 19 brawl in

Jones kept the Pacers in it in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 of
his points and making five of his six 3-pointers. Jamal Tinsley
added 22 for Indiana, which also played without injured Scot
Pollard, Jeff Foster and Reggie Miller.

After a layup by Lewis with 1:12 left, the Sonics led 100-89,
but Jones connected for 3-pointers with 1:04 and 29.5 seconds
remaining to cut Seattle's advantage to five points.

Allen made two free throws and Lewis one in the final 30 seconds
to seal it.

With Tinsley scoring seven points, the Pacers jumped to a 15-4
lead in the first 5:07. But the Sonics came back and Danny
Fortson's two free throws in the final second of the opening
quarter gave them a 23-21 advantage.

The Sonics were ahead 55-46 at halftime and 77-68 after three
quarters, but couldn't shake the pesky Pacers.

Fortson scored 13 off the bench for the Sonics, who got a
career-high nine rebounds from Nick Collison and outrebounded the
Pacers 40-29.

Collison was the 12th overall pick in the NBA draft in 2003
after helping Kansas reach the NCAA Finals as a senior, but missed
last season with surgeries on both shoulders. But he's starting to
make a contribution to the Sonics now.

Collison said he's finally healthy.

"The shoulders are really a non-issue," he said. "Ever since
I started playing in the summer league, they've been fine. I guess
the doctor did a good job."

Luke Ridnour, Seattle's starting point guard, had 13 points and
eight assists.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said he's going to have to do a lot
more coaching because of the loss of Artest, O'Neal and Jackson.

"There are certain situations where I'm going to ride these
guys," he said. "We haven't had a day of practice since these
guys have been here."

He might wear them out first. James and Fred Jones each played
44 minutes, and Tinsley 43.

"We gave them too many second-half opportunities and they hit
their shots," a weary Tinsley said.

Game notes
Before the game, Carlisle said he didn't have specific
expectations for his team without his suspended players. "How's it
different without 65 percent of our scoring for us? It's going to
be tough. We haven't set any public goals." The Pacers won 61
games last season, when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
... McMillan said the Pacers were a much better team with their
suspended players. "You do need stars," he said. "You do need
talent. I'm sure he (Carlisle) will say, `Give me O'Neal, give me


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