<
>

Recovering from flu, Allen scores 25 in win

SEATTLE (AP) -- Ray Allen can't remember ever being sicker in his
life than the past week.

"I was out for about six days lying on my back," the Seattle
SuperSonics' four-time All-Star guard said. "It seems like every
part of my body ached."

Allen scored 25 points after missing two games because of the
flu, leading the Sonics to a 113-99 victory over the expansion
Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.

Allen, who only returned to practice Friday, played 31 minutes
in the first three quarters and made nine of 14 shots, including
two 3-pointers.

Improving their record to 32-19, the Sonics increased their lead
over Minnesota in the Northwest Division to nine games.

Allen missed a game at home against San Antonio and one in
Sacramento. He couldn't wait to get back in uniform.

"Being here in the locker room with the team, this is who I am
and where I belong," he said. "I wouldn't have it any other
way."

Allen was surprised he played so well.

"I didn't feel good all day today," he said. "Yesterday, I
came down to practice and I lifted and I shot. But then I went out
to eat and after I ate, I got sick to my stomach. So I was nervous
tonight and I had a headache."

Assistant Dwane Casey, who coached the Sonics for the third
straight game in the absence of Nate McMillan, pointed out the
Sonics didn't have a letdown against a struggling opponent.

"Tonight we showed a lot of maturity and professionalism," he
said.

Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff was proud of his undermanned
team for not quitting after falling behind 69-46 at halftime.

"Our guys kept fighting and kept it respectable," he said.
"They hung in there and they didn't surrender against a pretty
darn good team."

The Sonics, who had lost three of their previous four home
games, got 23 points from Vladimir Radmanovic, including five
3-pointers, and a career-high 21 rebounds from Reggie Evans.
Rashard Lewis added 18 points, and Luke Ridnour had 17 points and
eight assists for Seattle.

Evans, a third-year pro from Iowa who wasn't drafted and made
the Sonics as a free agent, became the first Sonics player to grab
20 rebounds in a game since Shawn Kemp had 22 at Dallas on Dec. 12,
1995. Evans previously had 17 rebounds in a game twice.

"It was cool," Evans said. "My teammates were letting me know
and I had to be my best to do it. Now, I have to try harder and do
my best to achieve at least 22 the next time."

Melvin Ely had a career-high 22 points for Charlotte, and Jason
Kapono had 17 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. The
Bobcats are 2-21 on the road.

The Bobcats were impressed by the Sonics' shooting; 49.4 percent
(38-for-77), including .53.8 percent (14-for-26) from 3-point
range.

"I can't believe they shot as well as they did," Ely said.
"They were unbelievable from outside. They keep you spread out."

The game was virtually over at halftime, when the Sonics, with
their 69 points, scored the most points in the first half this
season. Radmanovic had 12 points on our 3-pointers in the second
quarter after Allen scored 14 points in the opening period.

In the fourth quarter, Charlotte got within 13 points at 109-96
with 2:44 to go, but Ronald Murray, who started in place of Allen
when he was out, made a pair of baskets in the final 2 minutes.

Seattle led from wire to wire after Lewis and Allen opened the
game with 3-pointers in the first 1:28.

Charlotte dropped to 1-2 without star rookie center Emeka
Okafor, who is on the injured list with a sprained left ankle.
Okafor, who is leading the Bobcats with average of 14.9 points and
11.1 rebounds, is scheduled to return against Miami on Friday night
in Charlotte.

Game notes
McMillan will return to direct the team Tuesday night
against New Orleans. The Sonics were coached by Casey because
McMillan was in Raleigh, N.C., where his mother died. Her funeral
was Friday. McMillan was scheduled to return to Seattle from
Raleigh Sunday. ... Okafor had a career-high 27 points in a loss
against Seattle on New Year's Eve in Charlotte. ... The 69 points
by Seattle in the first half was a Charlotte opponent franchise
record for a half. The previous mark was 67 by Utah on Nov. 16,
2004.