Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/31

Game 1: Friday, December 31st
Game 2: Saturday, February 5th

SuperSonics 103

(22-6, 11-3 away)

Bobcats 97

(7-19, 6-7 home)

    7:00 PM ET, December 31, 2004

    Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

    1 2 3 4 T
    SEA 30 27 18 28103
    CHA 22 23 30 2297

    Top Performers

    Sea: V. Radmanovic 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

    Cha: E. Okafor 27 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk

    Lewis paces Seattle with 27 points

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Seattle scored inside, outside and at the line. In the end, the Charlotte Bobcats just couldn't match it.

    Rashard Lewis scored 27 points and Seattle made 11 3-pointers in the SuperSonics' 103-97 victory over the Bobcats on Friday night.

    Vladimir Radmanovic scored 21 points on 5-for-7 shooting from 3-point range, and Ray Allen added 18 points for the Sonics, who blew a 13-point lead before rallying for the win.

    "They played a pretty good game, but at the end of the day, we just had too many answers for them," Allen said.

    The Sonics scored 42 points in the paint, shot 50 percent from 3-point range and missed just four free throws to move to a surprising 22-6.

    "No one expected us to be in this position," coach Nate McMillan said. "These guys do things the right way and we're making plays."

    The Bobcats, who dropped their fourth straight, were certainly impressed.

    "They kept on putting them up and they kept on dropping," said rookie Emeka Okafor. "I'd say they are the best team we've played."

    But the Bobcats felt they played pretty well, too, and coach Bernie Bickerstaff thought the officials played too large a role in the outcome. Seattle went to the line 10 times in the fourth quarter, and Charlotte didn't get a single free throw opportunity.

    "I may be biased, but the 12 guys in that room deserve better than that," Bickerstaff said. "It appears when we got back in the game, every play whether it was a defensive play or an offensive play, (Seattle) got a second chance."

    Okafor led the Bobcats with a career-high 27 points and also had 10 rebounds, the final one coming with 16 seconds to play to extend his streak of double-doubles to 18 consecutive games.

    The Bobcats welcomed back guard Brevin Knight and center Primoz Brezec after both missed games with the flu as Charlotte dropped three straight. Both gave the Bobcats an immediate lift, Knight with 15 assists before he fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and Brezec with 22 points and nine rebounds.

    Charlotte trailed by five with 30 seconds to play until Gerald Wallace's turnover was converted into Lewis' dunk that wrapped up the Seattle win.

    The Sonics led 57-45 at halftime, but the Bobcats pulled back into the game with a furious third quarter. Okafor and Brezec combined for 16 points, and Wallace was all over the court, as usual, scaring the Bobcats with his head-first dive into the bench that had the coaching staff briefly cradling his head to make sure he was OK.

    But the biggest difference was Charlotte's efficiency at the free-throw line, where the Bobcats have struggled all season. They made all six of their attempts in the third quarter (11-for-13 for the game) and headed into the fourth tied at 75.

    That's when the Sonics turned it up, exploiting the zone defense Charlotte briefly tried with a quick 3 pointer from Radmanovic. Seattle then began beating the Bobcats in every way possible -- 3s, jumpers, layups and at the line -- in a 13-5 run that gave the Sonics an 88-80 lead with 7:46 to play.

    Game notes

    The game reunited Bickerstaff and McMillan, who played for Bickerstaff in Seattle after Bickerstaff drafted him in 1986. "He was very hard on me, which taught me a lot," McMillan said. "A lot of what I do comes from Bernie's system ... Some of the plays that I run for (Allen) are some of the plays that Bernie ran."... The Bobcats play at Miami on Saturday. "They've been serving us up the whole damn holiday season," Bickerstaff said. "We're on everybody's menu." The Bobcats played at New York the day after Christmas and at Indiana the day after Thanksgiving. ... North Carolina coach Roy Williams sat courtside next to musician Bruce Hornsby.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 103 97
    FGM-FGA 39-80 (.488) 42-87 (.483)
    3PM-3PA 11-22 (.500) 2-11 (.182)
    FTM-FTA 14-18 (.778) 11-13 (.846)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-38 19-37
    Assists 21 30
    Turnovers 17 16
    Steals 6 8
    Blocks 2 7
    Fast Break Points 8 10
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (1/0) 22 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 13 3

    Top Performers

    Vladimir Radmanovic Radmanovic
    Points: 21
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Emeka Okafor Okafor
    Points: 27
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2