MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 29 (Ticker) -- Luke Ridnour
did not want the
Seattle SuperSonics to wait another day to clinch a playoff
Ridnour scored nine of his 15 points in the final four-plus
minutes as the SuperSonics rallied to defeat the Memphis
Grizzlies, 102-99, and clinch their first playoff berth in three
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The win was especially impressive considering the SuperSonics
were without injured All-Star forward Rashard Lewis
right foot) and big man Danny Fortson
, who did not travel with
the team after refusing to enter the game vs. New York on
"This is a big win for us, to come on the road and have guys
down and find a way to win like that," Ridnour said. "It feels
good to make sure we're in the playoffs. ... We have to keep it
added a career-high 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting
and Ray Allen
chipped in 22 despite shooting 8-of-20 for Seattle
(49-21), the Northwest Division leader and the third Western
Conference team to secure a postseason berth.
After missing a chance to secure a playoff berth vs. Washington on
Sunday, Seattle trailed by as many as 14 points in the third
quarter and 92-85 after a runner by Memphis' Earl Watson
5:13 to play.
But Allen nailed a 3-pointer to trigger a 10-0 run, which ended
when James split a pair of free throws for a 95-92 edge with
2:06 to play.
After the Grizzlies tied the game at 99-99 on a three-point play by
with 46 seconds left, James gave Seattle the lead when
he split two free throws with 27 seconds to go.
"You saw tonight that there were matchup problems in the post,"
James said. "We knew they couldn't stop us on the inside and we
just kept pounding it into the paint, and I was able to
get to the line."
Seattle rookie Damien Wilkins
, who scored 13 points, knocked the
ball off Grizzlies forward Shane Battier
and out of bounds
seconds later. Ridnour calmly sank a pair of free throws for a
102-99 lead with 15 seconds remaining.
Memphis forward Mike Miller
missed two open looks at a tying
3-pointer before time expired.
"Coach (Nate McMillan
) told us to switch everything (on the
Grizzlies' final possession) and get rebounds," Ridnour said.
"We did everything but rebound. I mean, they had looks and got
the rebounds, but thank the Lord they missed them."
Seattle went on an 18-7 run bridging the third and fourth
periods, tying the game at 83-83 on a jumper by Ridnour with
9:17 remaining. Wilkins had a pair of 3-pointers in the run for
the SuperSonics, who had trailed since the 8:48 mark in the
"Damien has a big heart, and he's not afraid," McMillan said. "You know when you're 12th man on the
bench, you just have to make things happen to get minutes.
Tonight he made things happen, and it made a difference."
Memphis held Seattle to 32 percent (16-of-50) shooting in the
first half while hitting 22 of its 37 shots to take a 50-44 lead
into the break. In the second half, Seattle sank 20-of-29
shots, including 8-of-11 from the arc.
Allen scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half for Seattle,
which shot 46 percent (36-of-79) and sank 10-of-20 from the
"We just didn't get enough defensive stops to win this game,"
said Battier, who scored 16 points. "To win these close games
you have to get some defensive boards, and we didn't get
"They knew what to look for on every possession," Gasol said.
"They played well down the stretch. I mean, we fought back and
showed some character, but that's not enough. We just have to
do what it takes to win games -- bottom line."
Gasol scored 24 points to pace the Grizzlies, who shot 55
percent (40-of-73) overall but made just 3-of-16 3-pointers.
The Grizzlies saw their lead over Denver for seventh place in
the West slip to one-half game.
With the win, the SuperSonics improved to 26-11 against teams
above .500 and to 25-9 on the road, the NBA's second-best road