Role Players Lead Sonics Past Pacers
Seattle 107, Indiana 102
SEATTLE, Dec. 4 (Ticker) -- Facing of the NBA's deepest teams, the Seattle SuperSonics had the better bench.
Ronald Murray scored 18 points to lead a strong effort by the reserves as the SuperSonics pulled away in the second half for a 107-102 victory over the Indiana Pacers, who completed a long road trip.
Coming off a season-high 24 points in Friday's win over Cleveland, Murray made 6-of-9 shots and 6-of-8 free throws and again was on the floor in the fourth quarter. He led a bench effort that saw Seattle hold a 36-13 scoring edge over Indiana, which many feel has the best bench in the NBA.
"It was another great night from our bench," Sonics coach Bob Weiss said. "I think (Murray) has got confidence and he's letting the game come to him and he's getting the minutes. Every time we've given him the minutes, he's played well and I don't expect that to change."
"Ray (Allen) said at the beginning of the game that the bench was going to make the difference in the game," said Murray, who scored in double figures for the third time in the last four games. "With that mentality, we just had to come out and provide the energy for the rest of the game."
In a surge at the start of the final period, Murray had two free throws and a driving layup before fellow reserve Vladimir Radmanovic got into the act with a dunk and 3-pointer.
Murray made a jumper and backup forward Danny Fortson converted a three-point play to give Seattle its largest lead at 98-82 with 6:21 remaining. Fortson scored nine points and Radmanovic seven.
"Our bench has made the biggest difference," Allen said. "I think there are not a lot of teams that have guys coming off the bench that produce at both ends of the floor. That's definitely been a difference on this team from when we win and when we lose."
"Flip (Murray) came in and did his job and me, Nick (Collison) and Reggie (Evans) did the best we could and sometimes that's all you need because Ray and Rashard (Lewis) are showing up every night," Fortson said. "They need help and I thought we are doing a better job of supporting those two guys."
The Pacers rallied behind Ron Artest, who scored 30 points, including 11 straight for Indiana to close the deficit to 102-95 with 1:05 to play. But he missed a 3-pointer on the next possession, and Lewis sank 5-of-6 free throws to seal the win.
"I thought Reggie really made Artest work," Weiss said. "He did a great job. He was the first to guard Artest and then when (Jermaine) O'Neal got hot, we had Evans guard him. They got 30 and 22, but they really had to work to get them."
Luke Ridnour had 13 points and seven assists for Seattle, which held a 37-28 rebounding edge and has won its last three meetings with Indiana.
O'Neal scored 22 points and rookie Sarunas Jasikevicius added 16, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Pacers, who played without injured starters Jamaal Tinsley and Austin Croshere and completed a 3-2 road trip.
"Their bench is very good and our bench is a strength, but we are a little banged up," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "That played into it a little bit, but everybody's got injuries, and you can't make excuses."
The Sonics held a 49-46 halftime lead and opened the third period with a 12-2 run that included 3-pointers from Allen and Lewis. The Pacers closed within a bucket before Murray scored five points in a 12-5 surge that closed the quarter and gave the Sonics an 82-73 bulge.
"The game got off to a great start and I thought we were headed to a game in the 80s, which we felt we would have had a great chance to win," Carlisle said. "But the rebounding was a big factor. We got out rebounded by nine - which is a lot - and got hurt on second-chance points."