TORONTO, Feb. 24 (Ticker) -- Brent Barry
scored 23 points Gary Payton
added 22 as the Seattle Sonics rallied for their sixth consecutive road victory, a 101-92 triumph over the reeling Toronto Raptors.
Seattle trailed 77-74 after three quarters but gradually took control in the final period. The Sonics outscored the Raptors 27-15 in the fourth and took the lead for good, 80-79 on a free throw by Art Long with 9:48 remaining.
Rashard Lewis added 21 points and Jerome James collected 18 and 12 rebounds for Seattle, which has won six straight road games for the first time since January 4-20, 2000.
NBA TV highlights|
Rashard Lewis launches a jumper while helping to propel the Sonics to victory.
After Long's free throw, Barry hit a 21-footer and James converted a three-point play that pushed Seattle's lead to 85-79 with 6:18 left.
Alvin Williams hit a jumper that got Toronto within 87-85 with 3:49 left. But on Seattle's next possession, Barry nailed a wide-open 3-pointer and Lewis made a free throw and two jumpers to put the game away.
Following Lewis' second jumper, Vince Carter had his layup blocked by James and Payton, who had sparked the rally with 14 third quarter points, sank four free throws down the stretch.
The Sonics trailed 51-40 at the half but finally got the deficit to single digits, 75-66, with 2:32 left in the third quarter.
Payton and Lewis followed with 3-pointers that made it 77-73.
"In the first half, we didn't execute properly and gave them too many second opportunities," Barry said. "The huge key was Gary being aggressive in the third quarter. When Gary plays like that, it really makes the other team nervous."
"We highlighted three things we needed to do better," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "We had to do a better job in transition. We had to limit their second chance opportunities and we had to take care of the ball better and we accomplished those three in the second half."
Toronto welcomed back Carter and center Hakeem Olajuwon to the lineup. Carter, who had missed seven games with a left quadriceps strain had 28 points, but he missed four crucial jumpers in the fourth quarter.
Carter limped throughout the contest and shot just 11-of-27, including 6-of-15 in the second half.
Carter, a 37.5 percent shooter from 3-point range, did make 5-of-11 3-point attempts.
But as the contest wore on, Carter was forced away from the basket and the Raptors offense faltered.
"We couldn't get it done towards the end of the game," said Carter who has missed 15 games in his four-year career. "It's tough when you play well for three quarters and can't finish the job in the fourth. We found our rhythm and then lost it and that's what's very frustrating for us."
During Carter's absence, the Raptors had averaged 79.8 points per game and Sunday marked the first time since February 5, that they had scored more than 90.
But it wasn't just Carter that Seattle kept away from the basket. The Raptors made a season-low three foul shots, while the Sonics were 17-of-22 from the line.
"We stopped running," Toronto forward Morris Peterson said. "Coach Wilkens told us to keep running, but we ended up stopping what we were doing that was working. We stopped pushing the ball up the court and we didn't get many easy baskets in the second half. We have to play consistent for 48 minutes, not 47, not 46."
Overall the Raptors shot 45 percent (41-of-91), but just 33 percent (8-of-24) over the final 12 minutes.
Center Keon Clark added 20 points for the Raptors, who have not lost eight straight games since a 13-game slide from March 20-April 12, 1998 -- the season before Carter arrived.
With the win, the Sonics (30-26) moved four games above .500 for the first time this season and within one game of Portland for the seventh seed in the Western Conference.
Toronto (29-29) fell back to .500 for the first time since December 16.