The surprising Sonics built a big first-half lead Wednesday night against San Antonio, and then they got clutch scoring from Ray Allen down the stretch to hold on for a 102-96 victory over the Spurs.
“They’re a very good team,” said Duncan, who scored a season-high 39 points while leading a San Antonio comeback that petered out in the final minutes.
“Very well-coached—they execute well,” Duncan said. “We have respect for them.”
Seattle’s victory ended San Antonio’s 21-game home winning streak and gave the Sonics a share of the NBA’s best record at 16-3. Phoenix also improved to 16-3 after beating the Los Angeles Lakers 113-110 late Wednesday night.
It was also the Sonics’ second win this season against San Antonio in as many tries, and both times they topped 100 points. The best anyone else has managed against the Spurs, now 16-4, is 96 points.
Despite the two wins, Allen called San Antonio the league’s best team and said the Sonics are still taking shape.
“Right now, we’re just one of the teams with the best records,” said Allen, who finished with 29 points, including a pair of 3-pointers late in the game after San Antonio pulled to within a basket. “We’ve got to beat teams consistently to be talked about as one of the best teams.”
Seattle looked like a runaway winner early, using 58 percent shooting from the floor to build a 19-point lead at the half.
“I think we came out more ready than they thought we would be,” said Rashard Lewis, who scored 16 points for the Sonics. “We jumped on them early and everybody was making shots.”
Seattle’s defensive strategy of crowding Duncan inside and forcing the ball to the perimeter also worked in the first half. San Antonio shot 38.5 percent before the break.
“It was really bad out there tonight for us,” the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili said. “The first half was awful.”
But the Spurs came out running after the break, and eventually whittled Seattle’s lead to 83-81 on a reverse layup by Malik Rose with 6:36 remaining. Allen followed with a 3-pointer and Danny Fortson made two free throws and a layup to make it 90-81.
After Rose made a jumper, Allen answered with a 3-pointer off the backboard to put Seattle up 93-83.
Antonio Daniels and Fortson each had 14 points for the Sonics.
Manu Ginobili scored 18 and Tony Parker 16 in San Antonio’s first home loss since March. Duncan had 10 rebounds.
The winning streak ended one game short of the team record of 22 straight in 1999.
Down 60-41 at the half, the Spurs went on a 23-8 run to open the third to pull to 68-64 with three minutes left in the period.
Duncan accounted for 12 of San Antonio’s points during the run. His four baskets in the quarter were one more than the entire Seattle team (3-for-12).
Leading 31-29 after one period, the SuperSonics got their advantage into double digits with a 14-2 run to start the second. Later in the period, Seattle used an 11-2 spurt to build a 56-37 lead with less than three minutes left in the half.
San Antonio made only five of its 16 shots in the second and scored only one fast-break basket in the half.
San Antonio’s current home winning streak began with a 88-84 victory over Seattle on March 3. … The Sonics are 9-0 at home and 7-3 on the road. They have won seven of their last eight games… Brent Barry, who played for Seattle for the past five seasons, was scoreless in six minutes for the Spurs.