Seattle 77, L.A. Clippers 75

SEATTLE, March 1 (AP) -- Rashard Lewis scored 31 points to lead the Seattle SuperSonics to a 77-75 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.

Lewis gave the Sonics a critical four-point lead, 77-73, on a jumper with 24.8 seconds left. A pair of free throws by Corey Maggette with 9.3 seconds left brought the Clippers back to a two-point deficit.

The Sonics lost the inbounds pass giving the Clippers a chance to tie the game, but Elton Brand's 16-footer at the buzzer hit off the back rim.

Seattle was without leading scorer Ray Allen, who missed the game with inflammation in his left ankle. He has been dealing with the injury for the past month and decided just before the game that the ankle was not responding well enough to play.

Lewis made 10 of 19 field-goal attempts and 9 of 10 free throws. Luke Ridnour and Chris Wilcox each added 12 points.

Brand scored 22 points to lead the Clippers, who were without guard Sam Cassell. He has a tender groin.

Trailing by seven at the half, the Clippers tied the game at 44 three minutes into the second half.

Brand held to just one shot in the first half, had 13 points in the third period.

The Clippers built their biggest lead of 53-50 on a floater by Tim Thomas with 40 seconds left.

The Sonics made just five of 16 attempts in the period and at one point went nearly 5 minutes without a field goal. They still managed to draw even with the Clippers at 57-all heading into the final 12 minutes.

The Sonics trailed only once in the first half, 2-0. They then went on an 11-0 run as Ridnour scored half of his 10 first-half points in the first three minutes. Cuttino Mobley's 18-footer with 2:15 left in the first period tied it at 21-all. The Sonics finished the period with a five-point advantage, 26-21, and would not relinquish the lead the rest of the half.

Lewis' three-pointer with 5:55 left in the half gave the Sonics a 35-27 lead.

Notes: Will Conroy, signed by the Clippers on Tuesday to a 10-day contract, returned to his home city. He played his high school and college basketball (University of Washington) in Seattle. Conroy played 14 minutes with two rebounds and an assist. ... The Sonics are wearing a black band across their left shoulders in honor of former player Dennis Johnson, who died last week.

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