The Seattle SuperSonics and Charlotte Bobcats are both dealing with injuries to their best players, not good news for teams with two of the worst records in the NBA.

While the Sonics hope to have Ray Allen back, the Bobcats are likely to be without Emeka Okafor when the two squads meet in Seattle on Sunday.

Allen sat out the Sonics' 77-75 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday with bone spurs in his left ankle. He's been playing with an ankle injury for the last month, but it became too painful for him to continue and he's considered questionable for Sunday's contest.

Allen, who's averaging a career-best 26.4 points, will be evaluated by a foot specialist on Monday, one day before the Sonics (23-35) begin a four-game road trip.

The Bobcats (22-37) sent Okafor back to Charlotte on Thursday to have an MRI on his strained left calf, an injury he suffered on Feb. 24 against Toronto. Charlotte lost 93-76 to the Raptors, the beginning of a four-game losing streak that has included the first three contests of a six-game road trip.

Okafor has missed all three road defeats and Charlotte struggled without him in a 127-90 blowout loss to Portland on Thursday. The margin of defeat was the second-worst in franchise history, trailing only a 115-76 loss to Chicago on Dec. 23.

"We had no answer for them tonight," Charlotte guard Matt Carroll said. "Their whole team was shooting the ball well. We would take away their post play and their perimeter players knocked down shots."

Unlike Charlotte, the Sonics responded with a win in their star's absence. Rashard Lewis scored 31 points on Thursday and Seattle won for the fourth straight time at home.

"I knew at that point I was going have to take more shots tonight and try to score a little more to cover for Ray," Lewis said after learning Allen wouldn't play. "I knew I would have to take more shots tonight, but I didn't want to take bad shots. But I think the defense is what helped us win the game tonight."

Allen hasn't practiced with the team in nearly two weeks, but with Lewis back and recovered from an injured hand that caused him to miss 22 games, the Sonics have another player who's capable of scoring in crunch time. Lewis had 12 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter Thursday.

"People forget how great the guy was playing early in the season," Seattle coach Bob Hill said of Lewis. "He was having a career year then.

"He missed 22 games and that's a long time. He's pretty much doing everything well. He's really trying to defend. His defense is so much better. He's getting to the foul line more, he was 9 of 10 tonight. He had five assists. He had five turnovers but his new-found confidence in dribbling the ball has increased his ability to have assists and make his teammates better."

Seattle hasn't won five straight home games since opening the 2004-05 season with nine consecutive victories at KeyArena. The Bobcats have lost seven of their past eight on the road.

The Sonics have won four of five all-time meetings with the Bobcats, including both games in Seattle.


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