PORTLAND, Ore., March 24 (Ticker) -- With the Seattle SuperSonics' two All-Stars ailing, they needed a lift from an unlikely source. They got it from seldom-used rookie Damien Wilkins.

Wilkins scored a season-high 21 points, including his team's last seven, and made a steal in the waning seconds to preserve a 96-91 victory over the slumping Portland Trail Blazers.

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The undrafted forward had played just 13 games prior to this one, scoring 16 points. But when All-Star Rashard Lewis left the game late in the first quarter with left knee tendinitis, Wilkins picked up the slack.

"To be honest, it's a different stage, but these are the games that I've been sitting on the bench all year long wanting to be a part of," Wilkins said.

"Wilkins had the game of his life tonight," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "He looked very confident out there. He made big free throws down the stretch. He's a guy that has prepared himself all year long by getting to the gym early, shooting at the game early. He had himself ready and he took advantage of it."

With the Trail Blazers holding a 91-89 lead, Wilkins buried a 3-pointer with 1:09 remaining to give Seattle the lead for good.

"I've been working on my jump shot as a whole all year," Wilkins said. "As long as I'm ready to shoot it and my feet are set, I feel comfortable taking any shot. What better teacher to learn it from than Ray (Allen)."

"That was a 'Yes' jump shot," McMillan said. "I've been telling guys all year, if you're out on the floor, you got to be ready to shoot and you got to take the shot when it's there."

Just 1-of-5 from the line this season, Wilkins made 5-of-6 free throws, including a pair with 13 seconds left to extend the lead to 94-91.

Losers of a season-high eight consecutive games, Portland had a chance to tie, but Joel Przybilla's pass was intercepted by Wilkins, who raced downcourt for a dunk that sealed the victory.

"To tell you the truth, it was a gamble," Wilkins said of the steal. "Coach was telling me to switch. I was supposed to go with Derek Anderson, but I just stayed. I felt that Przybilla was waiting for that to happen, so I just wanted to get a piece of the ball. Once I grabbed it, I took off running."

Nearly scratched prior to the start because of a sprained right ankle, SuperSonics All-Star guard Allen added 19 points but made just 7-of-19 shots, including 3-of-10 from the arc.

"It wasn't looking good for us at one point," Allen said. "The young Wilkins stepped it up tonight and took us over the hump tonight. That was all the difference in the game."

Despite having the second-best road mark (24-9) in the league, Seattle lost its first visit to the Rose Garden this season and had not posted a victory at Portland since March 30, 2002.

"This team needs a win," said Blazers interim coach Kevin Pritchard, who is 1-11 since replacing Maurice Cheeks. "I feel real good about the way we played. No, it wasn't a win, but credit (the Sonics). They are the more talented team, but we hung with them throughout."

Portland closed out the first half with an 8-2 run to take a 48-40 lead. After rookie Sebastian Telfair opened the third quarter with a 20-foot jump shot, Portland had its biggest lead at 50-40.

Seattle answered with a 20-4 burst capped by Jerome James' layup for a 60-54 advantage with 4:44 left in the period. The lead reached 11 before Damon Stoudamire hit a 3-pointer to close out the third and make it 72-64.

Stoudamire, who shot just 1-of-9 through three quarters, erupted in the fourth, hitting four straight shot from the arc to cap a 15-5 run and put Portland ahead, 79-77, with 8:21 to play. Stoudamire scored 19 points overall on 6-of-17 shooting.

"We played a good game, but we just didn't get the win," Stoudamire said. "I think Damien Wilkins is one of those players that just needs a chance. He got that chance tonight and he capitalized on it."