Seattle 100, Denver 97

DENVER, March 28 (AP) -- Embroidered in yellow thread on the side of Rashard Lewis' left Nike shoe was his nickname - Sweet Lew.

The Seattle forward lived up to the moniker in the SuperSonics' 100-97 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. Lewis scored 33 points - including 13 in the fourth quarter - and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Whatever Lewis wanted to do, he did. Denver couldn't stop him up top, down low or driving to the hoop.

"It shows he is one of the best,'' Seattle coach Bob Hill said. "He doesn't have to prove it to anyone.''

After the game, Lewis took his time getting ready as he watched the highlights on the television over his shoulder.

"I'm tired,'' he acknowledged.

Back-to-back games will do that. The Sonics were playing the second leg of a back-to-back road swing. Lewis helped the Sonics rally from a 25-point deficit on Tuesday night to beat Minnesota 114-106, finishing with 35 points.

"I thought we played well as a team,'' Lewis said.

Lewis didn't have to carry the load by himself Wednesday night. Nick Collison finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds and Damien Wilkins and Chris Wilcox each added 12 points.

Lewis, with his team up 99-97 and 2.1 seconds remaining, had a chance to seal the game, but made just one of two free throws.

J.R. Smith's desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim and caromed off.

It's the second straight game for Denver that's come down to the wire. On Monday against Detroit, the Pistons' Rasheed Wallace hit a 62-foot bank shot to send the game into overtime. The Pistons went on to a 113-109 win.

Carmelo Anthony said the demoralizing loss didn't carry over to Wednesday night.

"We had time to put (the Detroit game) behind us,'' said Anthony, who finished with 28 points. "That trip is over with, we dont think about those games.''

Anthony doesn't regret passing up a shot late in the game. Anthony passed the ball to a wide open Linas Kleiza, who's 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds remaining sailed long off the iron.

"The play was right,'' Anthony said. "That was the right look. He was wide open ... and had the best look we could have asked for. I will let him have that shot a thousand more times.''

Allen Iverson finished with 14 points despite having his left elbow drained Wednesday morning. Nene added 17 points and 13 boards.

Seattle took a 91-90 lead on Lewis' floater in the lane with 6:24 remaining in the game and never trailed again.

"They had Nene trying to guard Rashard for awhile and that was a total mismatch,'' said Earl Watson, who had 10 assists. "We tried to get Rashard in the post and that was a problem for Nene. Then we moved him out to the top of the key and Rashard made plays for himself and his teammates.''

The Nuggets continue to struggle at home. The team's 19-18 record is the seventh-worst home mark through 37 dates in franchise history.

The problem on Wednesday night was easy to diagnose for Denver coach George Karl.

"We let Lewis get into the game, and he is a weapon that can probably beat anyone in the NBA,'' Karl said.

Denver is trying to hang on to a Western Conference playoff spot and make the postseason for the fourth straight season. The Nuggets haven't made it that many consecutive seasons since former Denver head coach and current assistant Doug Moe led the Nuggets to nine straight playoff appearances from 1981-90.

Despite the loss, the Nuggets are in seventh place in the West with 12 games remaining. Utah clinched the Northwest Division title with a win over Minnesota on Wednesday night.

"We didn't have it tonight,'' Anthony said.

Lewis did.

"Rashard was great again,'' Hill said.

Notes: F Eduardo Najera missed his third straight game with a bruised left leg. ... Seattle F Andre Brown caught an elbow from Reggie Evans and broke his nose in the first quarter. He played 1:28. "I think it was kind of intentional,'' Brown said. "He knew what he was doing.'' ... The Nuggets dropped to 1-23 this season when they fail to reach 100 points. ... Seattle is now 4-12 in the second games of back-to-back contests.

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