Sonics join Spurs for NBA's best record

SEATTLE (AP) -- While many wait for the Seattle SuperSonics'
great start to fizzle out, the team is finding new ways to win.

With Ray Allen struggling from the field, Vladimir Radmanovic
came off the bench to score 20 points and gather 10 rebounds as the
SuperSonics defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 99-89 Saturday

Rashard Lewis added 20 points for Seattle, which improved to
15-3 -- tied with San Antonio for the best record in the NBA.

Portland's defense focused on stopping Allen, but his supporting
cast stepped up.

"In that situation when guys are committing and playing that
aggressive on Ray, it should open up someone else," Seattle coach
Nate McMillan said.

Allen was held to just 14 points but found his shot in the
fourth quarter. Allen scored six points during a fourth-quarter run
that put Seattle ahead by 14 with under four minutes to play.

Allen, the NBA's sixth-leading scorer (24.6 ppg), went nearly 30
minutes with only one basket made, but Seattle still improved to
9-0 at home.

"Rashard and I were talking about this before the game. For us
to be a complete team, we have to be able to defer our shot, in
order for (Radmanovic) to have the game he does," Allen said.

Zach Randolph led Portland with 16 points. The Trail Blazers had
won four of their previous five games, including a 100-94 victory
over Seattle last Tuesday.

"Our big guys didn't have good games tonight," Portland coach
Maurice Cheeks said. "Last game, Zach was able to carry the
offensive load late in the game. There were not a lot of good
offensive performances from our big guys out there."

After leading 52-50 at halftime, Seattle built a 14-point third
quarter lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from Radmanovic and Allen
and a technical foul free throw by Allen to go ahead 81-67.

Portland cut the lead to 83-78 early in the fourth quarter, but
Seattle responded with an 11-2 run to go back up by 14 as Portland
went more than seven minutes without a field goal.

This game had a far calmer atmosphere than last Tuesday's
physical battle in Portland, which was filled with trash talk and
technical fouls and included the ejection of Danny Fortson.

"We didn't have the same fight in us," said Portland's Shareef
Abdur-Rahim, who had 14 points. "We didn't keep fighting as hard
as we did at home the other night."

Another key was the play of Seattle's bench.

Led by Radmanovic, Seattle's reserves outscored Portland's
45-31. Fortson added 12 points off the bench for the SuperSonics.
On Tuesday, the Trail Blazers' reserves outscored Seattle's 43-15.

"It doesn't matter who is going to step up on this team as long
as we are winning games," Radmanovic said. "There are so many
guys that can play, and all we have to do is find the guy who's hot
that night and feed him up. Tonight it was me."

Radmanovic made six of his first seven shots en route to 17
points in the first half and to make up for Allen's 2-for-8
shooting. Seattle, leading the NBA in 3-point shooting, went
10-of-25 on 3-pointers and shot 48 percent overall.

Portland shot just 40 percent. The Trail Blazers had won four of
their previous five games.

Game notes
SuperSonics center Vitaly Potapenko practiced on Friday for
the first time since breaking a bone in his right hand during the
team's exhibition finale against Portland. Both he and guard Ronald
Murray will be evaluated this next week and could come off the
injured list, coach Nate McMillan said. ... Saturday's game was the
back-end of a doubleheader on Seattle's home court. Earlier in the
day, Gonzaga made the trek across the Cascade Mountains and
defeated Massachusetts 68-57.


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