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Sonics hold off Bucks behind Wilcox' career high

SEATTLE (AP) -- Seattle coach Bob Hill bet Chris Wilcox he
couldn't pull down a career high in rebounds again.

Instead of rebounds, Wilcox focused on scoring Wednesday night.

A night after collecting a career-high 19 rebounds, Wilcox
scored a career-best 30 points, leading the SuperSonics over the
Milwaukee Bucks 114-105.

Before the game, Hill said he'd made a friendly bet with the
recently acquired power forward during morning shootaround.

"I can't get over Wilcox," Hill said. "I'm going to have to
get on him about his assists."

Wilcox's passing may be the only area of criticism for Hill in
this performance. Wilcox had 14 rebounds, made 10 of 14 shots and
10 of 12 free throws. He did, however, go without an assist.

"We'll see what the bet is for the next game," Wilcox said.
"I tried to get 19 ... I was a little shy."

Rashard Lewis scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half, as
the Sonics held off a fourth-quarter rally by the Bucks. Wilcox
carried the Sonics in the first half, scoring 20 points with seven
rebounds as both Lewis and Ray Allen struggled to find their shots.

Lewis found his stroke in the second half, scoring 15 points in
the third quarter, taking some of the pressure off Wilcox.

"I told myself just to be a little more aggressive in the third
quarter," Lewis said.

Since being acquired just before the trade deadline from the Los
Angeles Clippers, Wilcox has meshed nicely with Seattle's up-tempo
style. Entering Wednesday's game, Wilcox was averaging 12.9 points
and 6.7 rebounds, and had started eight of his 14 games since the

He's also making action more entertaining for guards Luke
Ridnour and Earl Watson, both of whom are more than happy to lob
the ball at the rim for Wilcox to slam. Wilcox had three dunks in
the first half on Wednesday.

"That's what they got me here for to play hard and bring
energy," Wilcox said. "Tonight was my night, I came out and led
the team and then everybody just started feeding off of me."

Allen added 15 for Seattle, but struggled against the team he
played for the first 6½ years of his career. Allen was just 4-of-14
and didn't make a field goal for 22 minutes of game time.

Michael Redd led the Bucks with 26 points, but shot just 8-of-22
before fouling out. Dan Gadzuric added 14 off the bench. Bobby
Simmons also scored 14, Jamaal Magloire and Joe Smith both scored
13 and Charlie Bell had 10. Milwaukee, seventh in the Eastern
Conference playoff race, had won four of five.

"Those two guys that they added, Earl Watson and Chris Wilcox,
have made a big difference," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said.
"I sense they're playing with a lot of freedom."

Seattle tried to blow open the game early in the fourth. Allen
made a fallaway 16-footer, his first field goal since the 8:37 mark
of the second quarter, to push the lead to 10. After Redd's free
throw, Damien Wilkins scored and the Sonics led 89-78 with 9:35

The Bucks scored the next 10 points. Hill was called for a
technical foul with 7:36 left and Redd's free throw pulled
Milwaukee within 89-88.

The lead remained narrow, but Milwaukee could never pull even.
Watson's 3-pointer with 3:01 left, as the shot clock expired, gave
the Sonics a 101-96 advantage, and Seattle made 11 free throws in
the final minutes.

Seattle outscored Milwaukee 41-22 at the free throw line.

"It was huge," Hill said of Watson's 3-pointers. "He's got a
lot of courage."

Watson added 14 points off the bench. Ridnour strained his left
shoulder in the third quarter and left briefly, but still scored 12
points and had 10 assists.

Leading by one at halftime, Seattle used a pair of 3-pointers
from Lewis and free throws by Wilcox to take a 65-58 lead early in
the third. But just as Lewis begin to knock down jumpers, so too
did Redd.

During one stretch, Redd scored 11 of Milwaukee's 12 points,
including a 3-pointer and a pair of jumpers just inside the 3-point
line to keep the Bucks close.

Game notes
Bucks G Mo Williams left the team to see a specialist in
Indianapolis for further examination on his sprained left ankle.
... Seattle signed F Noel Felix to a contract for the remainder of
the season. Felix was signed to an initial 10-day contract on March
2. He signed a second 10-day deal on March 13. ... Watson returned
after missing Tuesday's game in Sacramento with a throat injury.

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