SEATTLE, March 5 (Ticker) --
Rookie Vladimir Radmanovic
scored a season-high 21 points and Rashard Lewis
hit two three-pointers during a decisive late run as the Seattle SuperSonics defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-83 Tuesday.
After Chauncey Billups sank a three-pointer to get Minnesota within 81-80 with 7:47 left, Seattle scored the next 11 points, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers from Lewis, as part of a 17-3 game-closing run.
Minnesota only made one field goal during the burst, a layup by Sam Mitchell with 79 seconds remaining to bring the Timberwolves within 94-83.
The Timberwolves shot 38 percent overall (31-of-81) while the Sonics converted 44 percent (39-of-88).
Radmanovic made 9-of-12 shots for Seattle, which split its four-game series with Minnesota. The home team won every game in the series.
"I think the guy who gets player of the game honors is Radmanovic," Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. "It was just a solid defensive effort and he shot the ball extremely well. He really made up the difference with us missing Brent (Barry, who had the flu). You know he was that perimeter guy who carried us basically tonight."
Gary Payton shot just 6-of-25 but finished with 18 points, 12 assists and six rebounds. Lewis tallied 16 points for the Sonics, who won for the ninth time in 11 games.
Anthony Peeler led Minnesota with 20 points but was held scoreless in the second half. Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 10 rebounds, but fellow All-Star Wally Szczerbiak had just 10 on 3-of-13 shooting.
Payton picked up an early technical and was whistled for a double technical with Peeler with 23 seconds left in the first quarter. Payton could have been ejected, but after the officials conferred with each other, Payton's second technical was called off.
“Everybody was talking," Payton said. "They wanted to give both of us a tech, and I wasn’t even saying nothing. He just made the right call.”
While Garnett and Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders argued against the overturned call, Payton sank a free throw for Peeler's technical to give the Sonics a 34-23 edge.
“I heard him say it was a double T on 44 (Peeler) and 20 (Payton), and Gary said, ‘Hey, if you call that then I’m going to be put out of the game,’ and he overturned the call," Garnett said. "That’s why I was jumping up and down. I told him it was a terrible call and one of the worse calls I’ve seen since I’ve been in the league. I don’t want to talk about the officials, but I know what I heard.”
"Everybody talks about how there is no star treatment -- well?" Saunders said. "What happens is then the player thinks that he's got control of the game. I mean Gary's a heck of a competitor but he's jawing at our guys and he pretty much thinks that he got pretty much free reign to do things. That's what good players do, you get every inch they can and try and try to take control if you can."
The Sonics jumped out to a 21-5 lead in the first five minutes and took a 35-23 edge into the second quarter. The Timberwolves stormed back to take a 51-45 lead at halftime and scored the first five points in the third quarter to take their biggest advantage.
Seattle took the lead for good at 69-68 on a three-pointer by Radmanovic to conclude the scoring in the third quarter.
"We made a run and then they made a run in the second quarter and then we made a run and we were able to pull this game out," McMillan said. "It was a slugfest for 48 minutes, both teams played solid 'D.' I thought we just played defense a little longer and the team that was defending was scoring on the offensive end."
The Sonics (34-27) are in the eighth playoff spot out West, percentage points behind Utah (35-26) for the seventh position.
The Timberwolves (40-20) dropped two games behind Dallas in the Midwest Division and 2½ games behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings in the race for the top Western Conference playoff position.
"I thought it was an unbelievable game," McMillan said. "We beat a very good team and we beat that team tonight with solid defense and good execution on the offensive end of the floor. This team has been faced with a lot of obstacles all season long as far as injuries and youth. And again tonight, guys stepped up and played together and beat a very good Minnesota team."