SEATTLE (AP) -- A blowout loss was personal and became just the
motivation the Seattle SuperSonics needed to play their best game
of the season.
After losing to Cleveland by 27 in early November, the
SuperSonics responded with their most impressive win, a 115-108
victory over the Cavaliers on Friday night, despite 34 points from
Rashard Lewis had 26 points for Seattle, his fifth straight game
of at least 20 points, and Seattle won its second straight after
dropping three in a row. Seattle beat a team with a winning record
for just the third time.
"We knew we embarrassed our team and the entire Sonics
organization," forward Vladimir Radmanovic said of the 112-85 loss
to the Cavs on Nov. 9.
Added Lewis, "They made us feel like we weren't an NBA team."
Ray Allen, who finished with 21 points, made his first field
goal of the second half with 10:16 left, then scored seven points
in the final 3:36. His 10-footer in the lane broke a 98-all tie. He
added a driving layup with 2:31 left, and his 3-pointer with 1:22
remaining gave Seattle a 109-103 lead.
Ronald Murray added a season-best 24 in a reserve role for
Seattle, including a difficult baseline reverse with 29.8 seconds
left to give the Sonics a 111-106 lead.
"Last game, Cleveland spent the last half of the game laughing
at us," Seattle coach Bob Weiss said. "This was a big game for
us. We had a lot to prove."
Larry Hughes scored 21 points for Cleveland, and reserve Damon
Jones hit five 3-pointers and added 16 points as the Cavaliers
dropped the opener of a three-game West Coast road trip.
James, who had his ninth game of 30 or more points this season,
shot 14-for-27 and finished with eight assists. He was held without
a field goal for a total of 13½ minutes in the second and third
quarters, and managed just a free throw.
After James scored his first points in more than eight minutes
late in the fourth quarter, Murray was fouled and hit two free
throws with 16.7 seconds left to put the Sonics ahead 113-108.
Vladimir Radmanovic provided the capper with a steal and dunk
with 13.2 seconds remaining.
"Our guys did a great job of responding," Weiss said. "We
never panicked. We stayed and we kept coming back at them."
Seattle's earlier loss to Cleveland came in the middle of a
three-game stretch in which Seattle lost by 25, 27 and 41 points.
The played all but two minutes without Lewis, who injured his
shoulder in the opening moments. Seattle was outrebounded 56-21,
the largest margin in Cleveland team history.
Seattle reversed the numbers, outrebounding Cleveland 38-30,
including 11 offensive rebounds, leading to 17 second-chance
"This time, we came out with the wrong mind-set. We thought
that we were going to outscore them. We can't do that with
anybody," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "Yes, we can score,
but we have to get defensive stops."
A contentious battle in the paint between Danny Fortson and
Zydrunas Ilgauskas reached a head late in the third quarter.
Already the recipient of two elbows from Fortson, Ilgauskas
collided with him while going after a loose ball. Ilgauskas then
crashed into cameramen on the baseline. Fortson was called for a
foul and given a double technical after arguing with the officials
and was ejected.
Cleveland hit three of the four free throws after the ejection,
pulling within 71-63. Seattle scored six straight, punctuated by a
dunk by Lewis, making it a 14-point game.
The Cavs got within two at the end of the third behind seven
points from James and two 3-pointers from Donyell Marshall.
Cleveland tied it at 81 on a layup by Hughes to open the fourth.
Seattle maintained a tenuous lead. The Sonics never trailed and
were never ahead by more than seven. Radmanovic added 14 for
Seattle, while Marshall had 14, and Drew Gooden scored 11 for
"It's frustrating, but that's a good team," James said. "We
were one play from getting over the hump, but we just couldn't."
James scored 12 straight points for Cleveland early and 14 of
16, making five consecutive shots.
Allen and Lewis combined for 22 of Seattle's 26 first-quarter
points, making 9 of 14 shots.
Fortson was active for the first time since Nov. 22 against
Utah when he aggravated an injury to his right big toe. ...
Cleveland didn't get called for its first foul until 11:38 of the
second quarter. The Cavs lead the league in fewest fouls.
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