Sonics Hold Off Late Hornets Charge
Seattle 114, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 104
SEATTLE, Feb. 28 (Ticker) -- Ray Allen and the Seattle Sonics nearly were done in by the Butler.
Allen scored 33 points and the Sonics nearly squandered a huge lead before holding on for a 114-104 victory over the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, who tried to rally behind Rasual Butler.
However, the Hornets got back in the game in the fourth quarter behind Butler, who made five 3-pointers and scored 15 of his 23 points in the final period.
"He (Butler) turned it on and made some shots and I was just trying to stay with him," Allen said. "I tried to keep him away from the ball and he still made some tough shots."
"Once I made a couple of shots, guys started looking for me," Butler said. "When it was my opportunity to run off some screens, I think I did a pretty good job of reading where the defense was going and gave myself some time to get off some shots."
Butler's fourth 3-pointer of the quarter with 4:23 remaining pulled the Hornets within 99-96. But that was as close as they would get.
"They just came out on fire," Allen said. "In the first half of the season we would kind of hang our head when we got down, but tonight we didn't hang our heads. We kept fighting. We kept our composure."
Nick Collison made a driving layup and Rashard Lewis hit a jumper, helping the Sonics rebuild the lead to 103-96 with 3:02 to go.
Lewis scored 25 points and Collison added 14 for the Sonics, who shot 60 percent (43-of-72) en route to their first win in 11 tries over a Southwest Division opponent this season.
Allen was on fire in the first half; he made 6-of-7 shots and all four of his attempts from behind the arc as the Sonics raced to a 60-50 lead. He finished 9-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-7 from deep.
The Sonics still held a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter before using a 15-2 run to take their biggest lead at 89-66. Allen had a three-point play and 3-pointer in the surge.
"We've had such a tough time this year in the third quarter, but we won the third quarter in Orlando and Miami and we won it again tonight," Sonics coach Bob Hill said. "They did what they were going to do and made a run back at us. Finally, we planted our feet, defined ourselves, and got the stops we needed."
Former Sonic Desmond Mason was ejected with 38 seconds left in the third quarter for pushing away the hand of an official while in a dispute with Allen.
Rookie Chris Paul had 25 points and handed out 14 assists and recently acquired Marc Jackson scored 19 points for the Hornets, who fell to 2-1 on a four-game road trip.
"We did a terrible job of letting them get whatever they wanted in the paint," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. " We just did a terrible job defensively for pretty much to whole game."
The Hornets shot 45 percent (37-of-82).