Lewis scores 37 as Seattle improves to 18-4

SEATTLE (AP) -- This was supposed to be a battle between Ray
Allen and Kobe Bryant, meeting on the court for the first time
since trading preseason barbs in the press.

Nobody told Rashard Lewis he wasn't invited to the show.

Lewis scored a season-high 37 points and had seven rebounds as
the Seattle SuperSonics improved to 18-4 with a 108-93 win over the
Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Lewis made 13 of 22 shots, including seven 3-pointers.

"We know what kind of threat Rashard is. He is extremely
versatile," Bryant said. "He just hurt us tonight from all over
the court."

When guarded by a smaller player, Lewis went inside and used his
height advantage. When a bigger player tried to slow down Seattle's
small forward, Lewis stepped out and drained 3-pointers.

"Too much focus was on Ray Allen tonight and I got a lot of
open shots and I took advantage," Lewis said. "Even though it was
Ray and Kobe ... I felt like Kobe was talking to us as a team.
We're a team and we're going to back each other up."

It's Seattle's best start since beginning the 1993-94 season
20-2 on the way to 63 wins. The SuperSonics have the second-best
record in the NBA and will host league-leading Phoenix on Friday

Bryant led the Lakers with 35 points and Allen scored 26 points
for Seattle, in a matchup anticipated since the preseason.

On Oct. 13, the day after the Lakers and SuperSonics met to open
the preseason, Allen questioned Bryant's ability to lead the
Lakers, wondering if the superstar's attitude would allow him to
take a backseat some nights and let his teammates develop their

Bryant responded, telling a reporter not to put Allen's name in
the same breath with his. During a later preseason game which Allen
sat out, Bryant told Allen he would see him again.

Before Tuesday's game, Bryant said he took Allen's words as an
attack on his team and he hoped they would respond.

Bryant's supporting cast did little to back him up.

Caron Butler added 16 points for Los Angeles, but aside from
Bryant's 12-for-23 shooting performance, the Lakers made just
20-of-58 shots.

"We ran into a team that has been playing great basketball,"
Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "They shot the ball so well.
We tried three different methods of trying to play them and they
had answers for everything."

Lewis scored 17 points in the first quarter and had 22 in the
first half as Seattle built a 10-point lead at the break.

Seattle was also unselfish with the ball, with 28 assists on 42
field goals. Luke Ridnour tied a season-high with 11 assists.

"Rashard was the guy at the other end of the floor for us that
kept us in the game and allowed us to take control," Allen said.
"I don't know if teams have respected him yet to where they have
to take him out of the offense."

Seattle took control in the second quarter as the Lakers
struggled to make a shot. The SuperSonics went on a 17-5 run,
highlighted by fast break dunks from Lewis and Jerome James, to
take a 51-33 lead.

Los Angeles missed 13 of 14 shots during the nearly seven-minute
span as they struggled against a zone defense by Seattle. The
Lakers' only points were a long jumper from Bryant and free throws
from Bryant and Chris Mihm.

The Lakers got no closer than eight in the second half.

"I thought our zone did a good job of getting them out of their
comfort zone and forcing them to play against a defense that you
don't see a lot of in the NBA," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said.
"I thought that slowed them down just enough for us to get some
stops and create some offense for ourselves."

Los Angeles fell to 8-9 on the season when Bryant leads the
Lakers in scoring.

Game notes
Bryant said before the game he was done commenting on the
feud that has developed with Karl Malone. "I've said what I have
to say on that matter," Bryant said. ... Seattle activated guard
Ibrahim Kutluay before Tuesday's game and placed guard Mateen
Cleaves on the injured list with a strained left shoulder. ...
Seattle guard Ronald "Flip" Murray and center Vitaly Potapenko
both made their regular-season debuts. Murray had been out with a
left quadriceps strain and Potapenko had a broken finger in his
right hand.