Seattle fails to clinch playoff berth

SEATTLE (AP) -- Larry Hughes gave Seattle fits on both ends of
the court.

The Washington guard scored 31 points, including nine in the
fourth quarter, to lead the Wizards to a 95-94 victory over the
SuperSonics on Sunday night.

The loss kept the Northwest Division-leading Sonics from
clinching a playoff berth and ended their five-game winning streak.
Ray Allen had 27 points to lead Seattle.

Allen was supposed to take Seattle's last shot, but Hughes
stymied him.

"I just wanted to get my hands in there and move my feet," he
said. "I was just making a defensive play. I like to play defense.
I like to stop guys. It's a challenge."

Kwame Brown gave the Wizards a 95-92 lead with 54.4 seconds left
with a pair of free throws after being fouled by Nick Collison.
Seattle's Damien Wilkins scored on a layup after getting an
offensive rebound with 37.4 seconds remaining to make it 95-94.

Gilbert Arenas of Washington was called for an offensive foul
for charging into the Sonics' Antonio Daniels with 16.7 seconds
left and Seattle had one last chance.

But Hughes, the NBA's steals leader, stripped the ball away from
Allen. The Sonics got the ball back on the play, but Daniels'
last-ditch desperation 3-point attempt was far short as time

Hughes had two steals of Allen and scored on fast-break dunks in
the final quarter when the Wizards went on a 9-0 run for an 89-80
lead with 4:42 left.

"I've been doing it all year," Hughes said of his defense.
"Playing the passing lanes, getting my hand in there, being on the
attack on both ends. We needed it and I was there to make it

Hughes, whose season high is 33 points and career best is 44,
shot 12-for-28 from the field and had 11 rebounds. Arenas added 18
points and Etan Thomas added 15 for Washington, which beat Seattle
for the second time this season.

The seven-year veteran scored 30 points or more for the eighth
time in his career.

"Larry played at a high level tonight," Washington coach Eddie
Jordan said. "Rebounding, steals, setting up the defense for us,
being a leader.

"Larry took a challenge on Ray," he said. "They're both
quality players. In my mind, Larry should have been an All-Star
this season if he hadn't been hurt and Ray has always been an
All-Star. That's the best the NBA can offer right there."

Arenas agreed about the play of his starting backcourt mate.

"He did a great job, but that's what he's been doing all
year," he said. "I was off in the second half and he carried the

The Wizards won two nights after losing in Los Angeles to the
Clippers. They end a five-game Western road trip Monday night in
Portland. They're now 2-2 on the trip.

"We have to look in the mirror and come out and get better than
we have been playing," Hughes said. "There's definitely no
question that we have to come out and play better than we've been

Allen, who shot 7-for-20, blamed himself for the defeat, but
surprisingly put the onus on his defense.

"I was disappointed in my defense," he said. "My defense and
us turning the ball over is what I think cost us the game."

Sonics coach Nate McMillan gave credit to Hughes, especially on
his final defensive play of the night.

"Ray had an opportunity, but Hughes played good defense all
night long," McMillan said. "He came up with a good defensive
play at the end."

The Wizards held the Sonics to 17 points in the third period and
were up 75-67 heading into the final quarter.

The Sonics led by eight points in the first quarter, but the
Wizards got 3-pointers from Steve Blake and Hughes in the final
1:09 of the second quarter in taking a 56-50 lead at halftime.

The Sonics played without veteran power forward Danny Fortson,
who was suspended for Sunday night's game for refusing to enter a
game against New York Friday night.<
^Notes: Fortson will not accompany the Sonics on their two-game road
trip to Memphis and San Antonio this week because he's recovering
from a sprained left ankle. ... Wizards starting F Antawn Jamision
missed his seventh straight game because of tendintis in his right
knee. He's on the injured list and isn't expected to play for
another week. ... The Wizards put starting C Brendan Haywood on the
injured list with a fractured tip of his left thumb and activated C
Peter Ramos. Ramos was on the injured list with plantar fascitis.