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Wilkins scores 26 off the bench to lift Seattle past Atlanta

SEATTLE (AP) -- When Damien Wilkins heard Rashard Lewis was not
returning, he didn't consider it an opportunity.

Instead, he got worried.

"Rashard is one of our guns and we need him now more than
ever," Wilkins said.

Wilkins proved more than an adequate replacement, scoring a
career-high 26 points and leading the Seattle SuperSonics over the
Atlanta Hawks 99-91 on Friday night.

Considered a defensive stopper for the Sonics, Wilkins provided
important offense after Lewis went out in the first half with an
injury to his right quadriceps. Wilkins shot 7-for-12, made 12 of
13 free throws and scored 13 of Seattle's final 16 points, helping
the Sonics snap a four-game losing streak.

Ray Allen scored 22 for Seattle and Nick Collison had 17 points
and a career-high 15 rebounds.

"Damien seized the opportunity and Nick seized the
opportunity," Allen said. "Somebody had to step up and make

Seattle controlled the backboards, outrebounding Atlanta 49-37,
including 13 from center Robert Swift. Seattle had 16 offensive
rebounds and held a 25-8 advantage in second-chance points.

Al Harrington led Atlanta with 26 points, while Zaza Pachulia
and Josh Childress each scored 17. The Hawks had won four of five,
but their struggles on the road continued. Atlanta fell to 0-11 on
the road against the Western Conference and 4-19 overall.

"They came up with the effort plays, loose balls, things of
that, and key rebounds, tips and putbacks," Atlanta coach Mike
Woodson said. "You can't win games like that, especially close

In the last month, Wilkins started to show signs of the player
that proved a valuable contributor late last season in Seattle's
run to a division title and the second round of the playoffs.
Wilkins scored in double figures in eight of his last 14 games, but
Friday was by far his best effort.

Wilkins scored 11 straight midway through the fourth quarter to
give Seattle the lead for good. Tied at 83-83, Wilkins made
back-to-back jumpers, causing Atlanta to call timeout.

Harrington made a 3-pointer for Atlanta, but Wilkins made two
free throws and then converted a difficult reverse layup and was
fouled. The three-point play put Seattle up 92-86 with 2:38 left.
He added two more free throws and outscored the Hawks 11-3 during
the stretch.

Another 3 by Harrington got Atlanta to 94-89, but Wilkins
assisted on Luke Ridnour's jumper with 46 seconds left to seal the

"Coach was putting me in position and calling plays where the
ball was coming to me and I was trying to make things happen,"
Wilkins said. "I was just happy I could contribute the way I

Atlanta scored just eight points in the final 8 minutes. It was
the first time Seattle has held a team under 100 points since
losing to the Los Angeles Clippers 98-72 on Jan. 14.

Joe Johnson, the Hawks' leading scorer at 20 points per game,
shot 4-of-17 and finished with 10 points. He did have 11 assists.

"The fourth quarter we went flat," Woodson said. "We just
didn't execute, we didn't move the ball, we got very stagnant and
we were able to be guarded."

Seattle went the last three quarters without Lewis, its
second-leading scorer. Lewis played the entire first quarter, but
shot 1-for-5 and had just two points.

After the game, Lewis said he took a knee to the thigh late in
the first quarter and that he would consider himself doubtful for
Sunday's game against Denver.

Lewis is averaging 21.9 points this season. He has scored in
double figures in all but two games this season, and has played at
least 20 minutes in every game but one.

He played just 2 minutes on Nov. 9 at Cleveland after he injured
his left shoulder.

Game notes
Allen was appreciative of being selected as a reserve to
his sixth All-Star game, but was also humbled by the selection,
because of Seattle's struggles and that Lewis wasn't chosen as
well. ... Atlanta rookie forward Marvin Williams only had to track
down 40 tickets for Friday's game. The Bremerton, Wash. native said
he didn't ask for any advice on handling the emotions with
returning home. "I'm excited to be back, definitely." Williams
finished with 4 points in 28 minutes.

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