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Sonics still in hunt thanks to Lewis' key 3-pointer

11/29/2003

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Setting a new career high was simple for
Raja Bell.

"I was getting good looks," Bell said.

Bell scored a career-high 25 points and Matt Harpring added 24
to lead the Utah Jazz to a 98-81 victory over the slumping Seattle
SuperSonics on Friday night.

The Jazz led by as many as 21 points and handled the Sonics
without much trouble despite the benching of starting center Greg
Ostertag.

Bell, best known as a defensive specialist before signing with
Utah as a free agent, scored mostly on drives to the basket,
helping the Jazz to a 25-14 advantage in fast-break points.

"Matt, Curtis [Borchardt ], and Andrei (Kirilenko) were setting
some great screens and I was finding myself wide open," Bell said.

Brent Barry scored 20 points for the Sonics, who played without
second-leading scorer Rashard Lewis. Vladimir Radmanovic added 14
points for Seattle, which has lost four of five.

Lewis, averaging 21.3 points, missed the game to be with his
family after the unexpected death of his brother in Houston. Lewis
is expected to rejoin the team for Saturday's game against the
visiting Rockets.

Harpring scored eight points in an 11-0 run that lifted Utah to
a 72-51 lead with 2:02 left in the third quarter. Seattle coach
Nate McMillan pulled all his starters and the Sonics showed some
life.

"I want to see fight. I want to see scrapping," Seattle coach
Nate McMillan said. "But that's not what I saw for most of the
night."

Luke Ridnour, who didn't play in the first half, made three
3-pointers in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter as
Seattle closed within 77-69.

But Harpring and Bell capped a 17-5 run with three straight
layups to help seal the victory.

"The system (Utah coach Jerry) Sloan runs and the way he
teaches basketball is infectious on their team," Barry said.
"They've pulled together and that's a lesson we can learn."

The Sonics had the look of a team in disarray as players used
one-on-one moves, pointed fingers and shouted at each other.

"I think we've been looking for things to pin bad performances
on. But we have to be beyond that," Barry said. "We have to come
and put the effort out on the court."

Seattle had 21 turnovers and 14 assists, and were outrebounded
44-30.

Ronald "Flip" Murray, who leads the team in scoring with a
22.8 average, shot 4-for-14 one game after scoring just 11 points
and didn't play in the fourth quarter.

The Jazz have been forced to play two rookie point guards since
Carlos Arroyo sprained his ankle last Friday against Milwaukee.

Raul Lopez and Maurice Williams scored 15 points and had 12
assists as Utah improved to 8-1 at home.

Game notes
The Jazz announced a one-game suspension of starting center
Greg Ostertag for an unspecified violation of team rules, but then
recanted. Ostertag, who threw a towel into the crowd after being
removed from Wednesday's game, dressed but did not warm up or see
action. ... Ray Allen, who led Seattle in scoring average last
season, should be able to begin full rehabilitation on his
surgically repaired right ankle next week. ... Reggie Evans
received a taunting technical foul after making a rebound layup in
the second quarter.