SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 8 (Ticker) -- Ray Allen
and the Seattle SuperSonics
played as if they had something to prove.
Allen scored 29 points as the SuperSonics sent a serious message
to the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the Western
Conference, building a big lead and holding on for a convincing
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"We knew it would be an emotional game and we had to control
that and play hard, and I thought we did both," Seattle coach
Nate McMillan said. "It was a gut-check game. In the second
(half) we were able to stand in there and withstand their run."
"We beat a quality team on their floor," Allen said. "We have
to always remember how we did it. We did it together. When it
seemed like we were going to fall apart, we came back together
as a team."
The SuperSonics came in atop the Northwest Division with a 15-3
mark that included a 19-point win over the Spurs just over a
month ago. The Spurs were riding an eight-game winning streak
that had seen them overtake the Sonics for the league's best
record at 16-3.
But in this early season showdown, the Sonics showed off. Behind
Allen's 19 points and a zone defense that throttled the Spurs,
they raced to a 60-41 halftime lead that silenced the SBC
Center. During its winning streak, San Antonio allowed 60
points through three quarters just twice.
"To give up 60 in a half like we did is really bad," Spurs guard
said. "We let them penetrate and pitch too much.
The first half was awful."
San Antonio stormed back in the third quarter and closed to
83-81 on a layup by Malik Rose
midway through the final period.
Allen answered with a 3-pointer, triggering a pivotal 7-0 spurt.
Allen banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the arc for a 93-83
lead with 3:36 to go. Former Spur Antonio Daniels
sealed it with
a 3-pointer for a 96-87 bulge with 1:09 left.
"It felt good to hit that shot," Daniels said. "They fought
hard to get back into it and a shot like that really stops their
momentum and takes the emotion out of them."
"We knew they would come out aggressive in the second half,"
McMillan said. "They made a run, we got control and got a clear
mind late in the game and knock down some shots and eventually
we regained control of the game."
scored 16 points and Daniels and Danny Fortson
added 14 each for the Sonics, who have won eight of their last
nine games and look every bit for real. Not considered a
playoff contender at the start of the season, they improved to
6-3 on the road.
"I think guys are being stubborn towards their job. They care,"
Allen said. "That stubbornness to give something to the team
is why we have been good."
scored a season-high 39 points for the Spurs, who
lost for the first time since November 22 at Memphis and
absorbed their first home setback of the season.
"It is going to be a great, great series between these two teams
this year," said Spurs forward Rose, who scored 10 points and
sparked his team in the second half.
The second quarter was all Sonics, who opened a 39-29 lead as
the Spurs went scoreless for the first 3 1/2 minutes. Allen had
a 3-pointer, layup and two free throws to help push the
advantage to 56-37 with 2:38 to go.
"I think maybe we caught them a little by surprise," Lewis said.
"We were a little more prepared than perhaps they expected us
to be. We came out and everybody was making shots, the whole
Rose started the second half for center Rasho Nesterovic
teamed with Duncan to rally San Antonio. Duncan scored 14
points in the period, including a free throw that cut the
deficit to 68-64 with 2:52 to go.
"It was more about physicality and more energy," Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich said of the change. "In the first half, we
didn't get that from Rasho."
"They came out late for the start of the second half so I knew
that Pop was laying into them," Allen said. "They had no choice
but to come out there and give us everything."
The Sonics regrouped and took a 76-68 lead into the final