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Sonics make free throws late, down Kings

SEATTLE (AP) -- The smack was so loud, it could be heard the
entire length of the KeyArena floor -- and all the way back to
Sacramento.

The Kings had been leading the Seattle SuperSonics the entire
game and by as many as 11 points in the first half. Now they led by
five, 66-61 with 10:09 left in the third period. Seattle center
Danny Forston, getting a rare start because Johan Petro was in the
hospital because of dehydration from the stomach flu, slapped Kings
All-Star Peja Stojakovic across the back of his right hand.

Stojakovic had 25 points on 9-for-10 shooting at that point. But
as he grimaced his way to the bench and a trainer applied tape to
his palm and wrist, near an already sprained pinkie, Sonics
All-Star Ray Allen took off.

Allen exploited Stojakovic's replacement, Kevin Martin, to lead
the Sonics to their third straight victory, 106-104 over the
thinned Kings on Sunday night. Allen finished with 28 points,
scoring 19 of his 21 second-half points after Stojakovic was hurt.

"I like to think I am a fourth-quarter player," Allen said.

Mike Bibby made a 3-point shot with 16.2 seconds left to bring
the Kings to 105-104. Allen answered with a free throw. Then Bibby
stayed on the perimeter during the game's final possession --
choosing to play for the win instead of the tie. He missed an open,
26-foot shot from 3-point range with 1.9 seconds to go to end his
team's first loss in three games.

"I just took a shot regardless of a 2 or a 3," Bibby said. "I
was just trying to make it go down."

Kings coach Rick Adelman said of the final sequence: "We had
opportunities to drive, I thought. But it didn't happen."

Stojakovic, the key to the Kings' makeover season, took only
three shots after the smack -- and missed them all. But he managed
to throw a pass the length of the court with his left hand for a
fourth-period assist.

He had X-rays taken after the game, after which a team doctor
told him the injury appears to be a "slight sprain." He is not
sure if he will play Monday night at home against San Antonio.

"I couldn't feel my hand at that point," Stojakovic said of
Fortson's slap, while holding a candy bar in his wrapped and
swollen right hand.

"I wasn't able to shoot. I wasn't able to feel the ball."

Rashard Lewis got an in-his-face look at Stojakovic's 25
first-half points trying to defend him, including on the 3-pointer
Stojakovic made in the second period with his legs splayed and
Lewis forcing him into the sideline, 24 feet away from the basket.

Lewis said Fortson's slap was indeed fortuitous for the Sonics.

"He wasn't as aggressive," Lewis said. "You could tell his
hand was bothering him."

Allen's wasn't.

He was just 2-for-9 shooting in the first half on what he called
"some easy shots." Then came the five-time All-Star's clinic on
Martin, in his second-year from Western Carolina. Allen's 3-pointer
over Martin with 2:20 remaining in the third period gave Seattle
its first lead, 82-79.

There also was a Seattle bench clinic. Reserve Vladamir
Radmanovic, who earlier this month had complained about his lack of
playing time, scored a season-high 17 points for Seattle.
Third-year point guard Luke Ridnour equaled his career high in
assists set last week by getting 13. And Damien Wilkins added 10
points keep the Sonics close until Allen got going.

The Seattle bench outscored Sacramento's reserves 39-9. That
made Stojakovic's injury even more important -- to both teams.

Sonics first-year coach Bob Weiss said the reserves' uprising is
what makes him think his team is finally adjusting to his more
open, less-structured offense than the one taskmaster predecessor
Nate McMillan controlled over the previous five seasons.

Seattle had lost four of its first five games under Weiss --
including consecutive road losses by 25, 27 and 41 points.

"Our support guys are helping us," Weiss said. "It gives me a
few more tools.

"And we needed all those tools tonight."

Game notes
Seattle plays six of its next seven games at home, where
they are 3-1 this season. ... All nine of the Kings' bench points
came from Kenny Thomas. ... Weiss said Petro, who had started seven
of the Sonics' first nine games, entered a hospital Sunday morning
and may return to the team Monday.