HOUSTON, Nov. 5 (Ticker) -- Gary Payton
does not have to talk about
contract issues to make a statement.
Payton, who has stopped talking about off-court affairs, dished
out a career-high 18 assists and scored 20 points to lead the
unbeaten Seattle SuperSonics to a 104-97 victory over the
NBA TV highlights from|
"I thought he did a great job," Seattle coach Nate McMillan
said. "When they didn't double-team him, he took advantage of
it, and when they did double-team him, the other guys got open
and made their shots."
In a practically flawless floor game, Payton committed only one
turnover late in the fourth quarter. The perennial All-Star
also grabbed seven rebounds.
Gary Payton and the Sonics are off and running.|
"I don't want to call him an old pro because he doesn't play
like an old pro," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "He's
really good at finding people and they have an arsenal of
shooters. We tried several different tactics to slow him down,
but he had an answer for every one of them. He was a master
With 6,968 career assists, Payton moved past Hall of Famer Bob
Cousy into 11th place on the all-time list. Cousy had 6,956
assists in his career.
"The other guys made that happen," Payton said. "We have good
shooters and I'm very confident to get them the ball."
Payton's passing allowed five other SuperSonics to score in
double figures, including Rashard Lewis
with 18 points. Lewis
also led Seattle with 12 rebounds.
"He's carrying this team right now," Lewis said. "He's the
reason we're 4-0. He had 18 assists and a guard can't do better
than that. He was kicking it out and we were knocking down our
The Sonics maintained their perfect record, keeping pace with
Dallas and New Jersey as the NBA's only unbeaten teams. Seattle
is 4-0 for the sixth time in team history.
Seattle ran away with the game in the third quarter, outscoring
Houston, 32-15. Payton had eight assists in the period as
Seattle built a lead that extended as far as 22 points early in
the fourth quarter.
"They got hot and shot the ball very well" Houston's Steve
said. "In the third quarter they made a lot of threes.
... I think that's the best we've seen a team shoot all year. We
didn't have an answer for them."
The Sonics shot 72 percent (13-of-18) from the field in the
third quarter, putting together runs of 16-4 and 9-0.
Francis just missed a triple-double with 33 points, 11 rebounds
and nine assists.
Coming off an eight-point game on Saturday against Toronto,
rookie center Yao Ming
did not score in 15 minutes for Houston.
The 7-5 Yao has been held scoreless in two of four games.
Houston clawed back to within six points in the final minute but
got no closer.