SuperSonics 102, Hawks 87

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SEATTLE (AP)—With Ray Allen sidelined, some struggling SuperSonics players took the opportunity to be more assertive and rediscover their own game.

Rashard Lewis led Seattle with 29 points, but it was the contributions from the likes of Chris Wilcox, Damien Wilkins and Earl Watson that were most critical in the Sonics 102-87 win over Atlanta on Tuesday night.

While Allen sat on the sidelines in a gray suit, resting a strained tendon in his right foot, Seattle’s role players picked up the slack. Six Sonics finished in double figures and Seattle won consecutive home games for the first time this season.

“Obviously we knew Ray was going to be out and that’s 25 points going down the drain,” Lewis said. “We had to come up with it from somewhere else. I wasn’t too worried because I knew guys were ready to prove they deserved to be in the rotation.”

Lewis gladly carried the load, scoring 18 in the first half and making 10 of 16 shots for the game. But he also set the tone with his hustle and defense, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking four shots.

Lewis’ teammates fed off his play. Wilcox established himself on the interior and scored 18 points with nine rebounds, his best scoring since dropping a season-high 22 against New Jersey on Nov. 13.

Wilkins, starting in place of Allen, did his best to slow Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and added 10 points and eight rebounds of his own. And Watson provided a spark of the bench with 10 points, hitting 5 of 8 shots, his best shooting game in a month.

Nick Collison also finished in double figures with 11 points and nine rebounds. Seattle outrebounded Atlanta 44-28 in picking up its seventh straight win over the Hawks.

“I didn’t want to go in there and put pressure on myself and be Ray Allen. I can’t do that,” Wilkins said. “I just wanted to bring my energy defensively.”

Johnson led the Hawks with 34 points and is averaging 33 over his last five games. Johnson made 14 of 29 shots but got very little help. Josh Smith added 11 points and Zaza Pachulia scored 10, and were the only other Hawks’ in double figures. Atlanta shot just 38.6 percent.

“We lost focus once we found out (Allen) was out,” Johnson said. “For whatever reason we came out too relaxed and they came out and got into a great spot.”

Seattle never trailed and Atlanta made only one run at the Sonics. Trailing by 15 early in the second half, the Hawks trimmed the deficit to 69-63 on Smith’s layup with 2:49 left in the third quarter.

Seattle responded by scoring the last eight points of the third quarter, highlighted by center Johan Petro’s fast-break layup, dribbling half of the court. The drive was part of an 12-3 run that carried into the opening moments of the fourth and extended Seattle’s lead back to 15.

The Sonics had a season-high 24 turnovers, but Atlanta couldn’t get within nine in the final quarter.

“We were awful tonight. We were terrible defensively. We had no defensive presence,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. “Every time we got stops, they got offensive putbacks. I mean, it’s a joke.”

Allen said he first noticed the pain in his foot before Saturday’s game at Utah but he opted to play in the Sonics’ 109-107 loss. He didn’t practice Monday in hopes of playing against Atlanta, but after going through his normal pregame routine, decided against suiting up.

Allen is scheduled to have an MRI exam on Wednesday.

Atlanta played without guard Speedy Claxton, who rested his sore knees. Claxton played 28 minutes on Sunday in Portland, the first of a five-game road trip for the Hawks.


Zurab Nogaideli, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Georgia was in attendance. Atlanta’s Pachulia is from the Republic of Georgia. … Atlanta’s last win over Seattle was Nov. 9, 2003. … Seattle G Desmon Farmer scored his first basket of the season, hitting a jumper in the final minute.

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