SEATTLE, March 22 (Ticker) --
This game probably should have been stopped after the first quarter. Desmond Mason
scored 22 points and Gary Payton
added 13 of his 19 points in the opening period as the Seattle SuperSonics extended their winning streak to three games with a 112-82 rout of the Houston Rockets.
The Sonics are in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Western Conference and took advantage of the lackluster Rockets, who have no hope of making the postseason. Houston had its only lead at 4-3 before Seattle responded with a 28-12 run to take the lead for good.
"I really liked our professionalism and being all business," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "That's what we talked about before the game, taking care of business on the floor."
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Brent Barry made seven of eleven shots to soar to an easy 21-point evening.
"We came out sleepwalking to a team that was focused and in a race and we got humiliated," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "I expected a completely different approach. As far as focus, when you looked in their eyes and you looked in our eyes, it was completely different."
Payton began the spurt with consecutive baskets and scored eight points. Brent Barry
scored six of his 21 points during the burst, which gave Seattle a 31-16 cushion with 2:40 remaining.
Payton made all six of his shots in the first quarter as the Sonics shot 71 percent (15-of-21) in the period en route to a 36-21 cushion.
"We shot a very high percentage in the first quarter," McMillan said. "I know we're a good shooting team. If we have open looks, normally we'll knock them down and I think that was due to the ball movement tonight."
The Rockets pulled within 38-25 on a jumper by Moochie Norris
with 9:38 left in the second quarter, but Seattle scored 21 of the next 27 points to pull away. Mason scored nine points in the second period and the Sonics had a 61-34 halftime cushion.
The Rockets never got closer than 18 in the second half and suffered their third straight loss. The Sonics had their largest lead when time expired.
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collected 13 points and 11 rebounds for Seattle, which shot 59 percent (46-of-78) from the floor and outscored Houston in the paint, 60-36.
"We just came out and pretty much did everything right tonight," Mason said. "We were patient and took care of the ball and rebounded the ball. We executed out game plan to a T."
The Sonics are in seventh place in the Western Conference, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Utah Jazz. Cuttino Mobley
scored 19 points and Steve Francis
added 13 on just 3-of-15 shooting for the Rockets, who fell to 0-3 on a five-game road trip. Walt Williams
scored 10 of his 15 points in the third quarter and Norris finished with 14 off the bench for Houston, which shot just 39 percent (31-of-80).
"It was as ugly as it gets," Tomjanovich said. "In the second half we competed better. I guess you live and learn. It happens. It's tough being where we're at."