Ray Allen made sure Seattle’s losing streak came to an end his last time out.
Now, he’ll look to build on the best offensive game of his career as the SuperSonics host the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
Allen scored a career-high 54 points Friday night in Seattle’s 122-114 overtime victory over the Utah Jazz. He had 18 points in the fourth quarter and 15 more in the extra session to help the SuperSonics end a season high-tying six-game losing streak.
“It was just one of those nights that we talk about,” Allen said. “People want to know what the zone is like, and that’s a night that if I can have a DVD of that and show people - this is what it’s like. You can’t really explain it. It just happens. Teammates find you. But what it comes down to is just playing basketball.”
The 54 points were second-most in franchise history to Fred Brown’s 58-point outburst against Golden State on March 23, 1974, and easily surpassed Allen’s previous career high of 47 versus Charlotte in 2002, while Allen was with the Milwaukee Bucks.
“The circumstances - us needing a win, going into overtime like we did, being down in the fourth quarter - it looked like we were heading in that direction where we’ve been headed in many games up to this point,” Allen said.
Allen leads the Sonics with a career-best 25.8 points per game and has averaged 36.5 points over his last four games. Nick Collison chipped in 25 points and 13 rebounds for his third double-double in the last four games and Earl Watson had a career-high 16 assists, many of which set up Allen.
“Ray’s performance was one of the finest most people here tonight have ever seen,” Seattle coach Bob Hill said.
The Sonics are hoping for a similar performance from Allen on Tuesday. The Cavaliers (23-13) pounded Seattle 106-84 in Cleveland on Dec. 15 with Allen sidelined by an injured right foot.
Allen is averaging 20.3 points in 31 career games versus Cleveland, and has scored at least 20 points in the last eight of those matchups.
Cleveland is coming off Saturday’s 104-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. LeBron James had 28 points for the Cavaliers, who have won nine of their last 11 and own a two-game lead over Detroit for the Central Division lead and the top spot in the East.
“We’ve just got to keep playing like we’ve been playing,” James said. “We can’t let no pressure get to us. We don’t believe in pressure as a team. And me being a leader, I don’t believe in it, so I kind of keep it away from my teammates. We do an excellent job of taking it game by game and not thinking about the future. We try to approach every game like it’s our last.”
The victory improved the Cavs to 2-1 on their season-long seven-game road trip.
“We want to be real greedy and try to win as many games as we can on this west coast trip,” James said. “We know it’s tough, but we’re finally starting to pick it up on the road.”
Larry Hughes did not play against the Clippers and is listed as day-to-day because of tendinitis in his left quad.