LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Ronald "Flip" Murray's playing time is
usually limited since he plays behind Seattle All-Star Ray Allen.
Murray got an opportunity Sunday night when Allen sprained his
right ankle, and there was no discernible drop-off.
Murray scored a season-high 25 points in 35 minutes, Rashard
Lewis had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and the short-handed
SuperSonics held off the slumping Los Angeles Lakers 102-100.
"I just had to wait my turn. My time eventually comes," Murray
said. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. That's the thing
about the NBA -- you have to be patient.
"There wasn't anything spectacular I was trying to do. It feels
good go get in there and play, but whenever you get a chance to go
out there, even for 5 minutes a game, it's always special."
Murray entered averaging 5.6 points and 14.7 minutes per game.
"Everybody knows Flip can play," Lewis said. "We've got Ray
Allen as a 2 guard. That's what's holding him back."
Allen, averaging 23.9 points, had six points, three assists and
one rebound when he came out for good with 2:12 remaining in the
opening period. There was no immediate word as to the severity of
his injury, and Allen wasn't available after the game. X-rays were
"When we came into the locker room, he was here to greet us,"
teammate Antonio Daniels said. "I asked him how he was doing. He
said, 'All right."
The loss was the fifth straight for the Lakers -- their longest
losing streak since they finished the 1993-94 season with 10
That was the last time the Lakers (32-34) failed to qualify for
the playoffs, and they're in danger of falling short this season,
trailing the Denver Nuggets by 3½ games in the battle for the
eighth and final Western Conference berth.
"If it's mathematically possible, then it's possible," Bryant
said. "You never know. We can get hot. But it all starts on the
defensive end. We've got to focus on locking people down."
The win was the fourth in five games for the Northwest
Division-leading Sonics (45-20). Seattle also played without
starting center Jerome James (bruised right quad) and inside
reserve Danny Fortson (sprained left ankle).
"The strength of this team all year has been the depth,"
Daniels said. "Everybody can play."
Lamar Odom, the Lakers' second-leading scorer, didn't play
because of a strained left shoulder. Team spokesman John Black said
results of an MRI taken before the game were inconclusive, and Odom
would see a specialist Monday.
Potapenko's three-point play with 8:45 remaining gave the Sonics
a 79-68 lead. That's when Bryant went to work, outscoring the
Sonics 9-3 by himself with three 3-pointers to move the Lakers
within five points.
A basket by Daniels and Ridnour's 3-pointer extended Seattle's
lead to 89-79 with 4½ minutes to play, but the Lakers battled back
again, drawing within two points on a layup by Atkins with 43.6
Nick Collison made a three-point play with 28.2 seconds
remaining, but Butler's layup drew the Lakers within three points.
Butler was fouled on the play and missed the free throw, but Bryant
got the rebound and missed a 3-pointer that could have tied the
Two free throws each by Ridnour and Lewis clinched the victory.
Butler made a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"We couldn't get stops when we needed to," Bryant said. "We
didn't do a good job of keeping them out of the paint. We let them
penetrate and pitch, and get whatever shots they wanted. We had a
couple of situations tonight where we just needed to get that one
big stop, and we weren't able to do it."
Sonics coach Nate McMillan said he hopes James and Fortson
will be able to play Tuesday night against Milwaukee. Neither
traveled to Los Angeles. ... Black said Odom won't travel with the
Lakers for Tuesday night's game at Utah. Odom said he hoped to play
Thursday night at Denver. ... The Lakers are in jeopardy of missing
the playoffs for just the second time since 1976. ... With 16 games
remaining, the Lakers have already lost more games this season than
in any season since 1994-95, when they went 48-34. ... The Lakers
are 6-30 when allowing their opponents to score 100 or more points.