Allen Limits Bryant as Sonics Surprise Lakers
Seattle 120, L.A. Lakers 113
LOS ANGELES, March 12 (Ticker) -- Ray Allen is not known for his defense but did more than a solid job on Kobe Bryant.
Allen limited Bryant to 22 points and was part of a balanced attack as the hot-shooting Seattle SuperSonics held on for a 120-113 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, whose momentum was stopped cold.
Among the league's perennial All-Stars, Allen is known as a scorer with perhaps the best shooting stroke in the league. On Sunday, he was matched up against Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer at over 35 points per game.
With some help from his teammates, Allen hounded Bryant into 8-of-29 shooting. He held the superstar scoreless in the first quarter and to a relatively harmless seven points in the final period. He made just 2-of-13 3-pointers.
"We knew Kobe was going to get his shots," Allen said. "It was just a matter of making him take tough shots, keeping a body in his (face) and rebound his missed shots. I think we did as good of a job that we could do."
"We went into the game with idea of Ray trying to push Kobe to a certain part of the floor and then there would always be help," Seattle coach Bob Hill said. "I thought Ray did a good job for the most part in pushing him there and then our big guys were ready to make him at least take a jump shot. Kobe is just a freak of nature - unbelievable."
Despite Bryant's struggles, the Lakers were within 111-107 with 2:08 to play after a pair of free throws by Lamar Odom, who scored 21 points. At the other end, point guard Earl Watson worked a pick-and-roll with Lewis and fed him for an easy inside bucket with 1:42 remaining.
Odom responded with a 3-pointer, but Wilcox tipped in a miss by Watson for a 115-110 lead. After Bryant made two free throws, Wilcox took a pass from Watson and dunked over Chris Mihm for a 117-112 lead with 48 seconds to go.
Mihm, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds, suffered a high ankle sprain on the play and had to be helped off by teammates. He left the locker room on crutches.
Bryant missed a crucial free throw and three 3-pointers in the waning seconds, ending one of his worst games of the season. He did not speak to reporters afterward.
"We wanted to keep an extra guy in front of Kobe," Hill said. "And keep the last guy open. When the ball was below the foul line, I think we did a really good job of that."
"Myself, I was just trying to keep pace with him offensively," said Allen, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds. "I need to keep him tired because if he's working on just one end of the court he has more energy to use offensively."
Watson had 14 points and eight assists off the bench for the SuperSonics, who had six players in double figures. Acquired in trades in the last month, Watson and Wilcox are fitting in well.
"I thought we did a good job," Watson said. "We have come in here and helped the team and elevating the team to a more athletic team and a quicker team in transition. We want to be competitive and I think we are."
"The guys here are believing in me," Wilcox said. "We are getting out and running and that is what I do. It is an easy fit for me because they were running before I got here. I've just added a little something extra to it."
Luke Walton scored a season-high 17 points and Smush Parker added 15 for the Lakers (33-31), who had won four of their last five games. They were coming off a solid win at San Antonio on Friday but stumbled with another bad home loss.
"It does hurt because we are in a playoff race so we can't let this get us down if we expect to be a championship team," Lakers forward Brian Cook said.
Lewis scored 18 points and Wilcox added 13 as Seattle raced to a 64-55 halftime lead. Los Angeles never led in the second half, although Cook's jumper forged a 74-74 tie midway through the third period.
"Seattle really hurt us with their transition game," Cook said. "They got a lot of easy layups and it looked like we weren't getting back on defense."