(10-4, 4-2 away)
6:00 PM ET, November 28, 2004
Key Arena, Seattle, WA
SEATTLE (AP) -- In a matchup of conference leaders, the Seattle SuperSonics thought the Indiana Pacers would run out of steam when it counted most.
They were right.
Rashard Lewis scored 22 points, Ray Allen had 19 points and a season-high nine assists and the SuperSonics beat the Indiana Pacers 103-95 on Sunday night. Seattle's reserves outscored the Pacers' 45-4.
"We just tried to push the ball and keep pressure on them," Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. "We knew they had a short bench and hoped that would be a factor. I thought the second half, they looked like they were a little fatigued."
Reserves Vladimir Radmanovic and Antonio Daniels each added 14 points for the Western Conference-leading Sonics, who won their fourth straight in improving their NBA-best record to 13-2. Seattle also remained undefeated at home.
It's the Sonics' best start since the 1993-94 season, when they were 14-1.
Radmanovic said it was important for the reserves to provide some help for the slender Lewis and Allen, who each played 41 minutes.
"For sure, you can't have two guys playing 48 minutes a full season long," Radmanovic said. "They've been well for us and we're going to continue to feed them. But some nights, it's going to be somebody else who has to step up."
Lewis played with a strained left shoulder that was packed in ice after the game. He said he consciously avoided mixing it up too much inside against the Pacers.
"It was sore," Lewis said of his shoulder. "I knew I could go out and still be capable of things I'm able to do because I shoot with my right hand. But the main thing was just trying to be careful going for rebounds with my left hand."
James Jones scored a career-high 27 points for the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers (10-4). Indiana, depleted by injuries and suspensions, had its three-game winning streak stopped.
Jones kept the Pacers in it in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 of his points and making five of his six 3-pointers. Jamal Tinsley added 22 for Indiana, which also played without injured Scot Pollard, Jeff Foster and Reggie Miller.
After a layup by Lewis with 1:12 left, the Sonics led 100-89, but Jones connected for 3-pointers with 1:04 and 29.5 seconds remaining to cut Seattle's advantage to five points.
Allen made two free throws and Lewis one in the final 30 seconds to seal it.
With Tinsley scoring seven points, the Pacers jumped to a 15-4 lead in the first 5:07. But the Sonics came back and Danny Fortson's two free throws in the final second of the opening quarter gave them a 23-21 advantage.
The Sonics were ahead 55-46 at halftime and 77-68 after three quarters, but couldn't shake the pesky Pacers.
Fortson scored 13 off the bench for the Sonics, who got a career-high nine rebounds from Nick Collison and outrebounded the Pacers 40-29.
Collison was the 12th overall pick in the NBA draft in 2003 after helping Kansas reach the NCAA Finals as a senior, but missed last season with surgeries on both shoulders. But he's starting to make a contribution to the Sonics now.
Collison said he's finally healthy.
"The shoulders are really a non-issue," he said. "Ever since I started playing in the summer league, they've been fine. I guess the doctor did a good job."
Luke Ridnour, Seattle's starting point guard, had 13 points and eight assists.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said he's going to have to do a lot more coaching because of the loss of Artest, O'Neal and Jackson.
"There are certain situations where I'm going to ride these guys," he said. "We haven't had a day of practice since these guys have been here."
He might wear them out first. James and Fred Jones each played 44 minutes, and Tinsley 43.
"We gave them too many second-half opportunities and they hit their shots," a weary Tinsley said.
Before the game, Carlisle said he didn't have specific expectations for his team without his suspended players. "How's it different without 65 percent of our scoring for us? It's going to be tough. We haven't set any public goals." The Pacers won 61 games last season, when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals. ... McMillan said the Pacers were a much better team with their suspended players. "You do need stars," he said. "You do need talent. I'm sure he (Carlisle) will say, `Give me O'Neal, give me Artest."
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||33-76 (.434)||36-73 (.493)|
|3PM-3PA||10-24 (.417)||11-22 (.500)|
|FTM-FTA||19-28 (.679)||20-24 (.833)|
|Fast Break Points||2||5|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (1/0)||24 (2/1)|