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Clippers rally to beat Sonics, tie for 5th in West

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Los Angeles Clippers are making a habit of
rallying from large deficits.

For the second time in the last two weeks the Clippers put
together a significant comeback -- this time 18 points -- to beat the
Seattle SuperSonics 101-97 on Friday night.

On April 4, the Clippers rallied from a 22-point deficit to beat
Denver 111-109 at home. That night, Sam Cassell led the charge.
This time, it was the inside combo of Elton Brand and Chris Kaman.

"That's what we do. Usually every night one of us will have a
matchup where we can pretty much have an advantage down there,"
Brand said. "When we play the right way, everybody gets open
shots."

Brand dominated, scoring 30 points and adding 15 rebounds. He
shot 10-for-20, made all 10 of his free throws and his short jumper
in the paint with 2:06 left gave the Clippers a 97-93 lead.

Kaman added 20 points and 12 rebounds to help the Clippers
overcome a 54-36 second quarter deficit and pull even with idle
Memphis for fifth in the Western Conference. Both teams are 46-33.

If they finish tied, Memphis holds the tie-break. That could be
a good thing for the Clippers, as they would avoid either Dallas or
San Antonio in the first round and Los Angeles could hold
home-court advantage against Denver. The Clippers need one win or a
Denver loss to assure themselves of finishing with a better record.

"We're one step closer to clinching with Denver, but more
meaningful is it's another game where we came back from some big
points down," Clippers' coach Mike Dunleavy said.

Ray Allen continued his climb toward the NBA's 3-point record
with 33 points, including five 3s, but Seattle's offense was
stagnant in the second half. Allen struggled under the defensive
pressure of Quinton Ross.

Allen made all five of his 3-pointers in the second quarter,
part of a 24-point first half, but was only 4-for-12 in the second
half. Seattle was held to 31 points in the second half and had a
three-game home win streak snapped.

Allen now has 254 3-pointers on the season, 12 behind Dennis
Scott's single-season record of 267 set in the 1995-96 season.
George McCloud is second with 257. Seattle plays two of its final
three on the road.

"The first half was very exciting. I was happy for Ray,"
Seattle coach Bob Hill said. "He's had a phenomenal years and a
phenomenal first half."

The Clippers took the lead for good at 94-93 on Ross' two free
throws with 3:08 left. Kaman added a free throw before Brand's
jumper.

Mikki Moore tipped in an Allen miss with 1:09 left to get
Seattle within 97-95. Cassell, who had missed his previous four
shots and hadn't taken an attempt in the fourth quarter, made a
20-footer over Earl Watson with 55 seconds left for a 99-95 lead.

Allen made a baseline jumper and Cuttino Mobley missed with 18
seconds left. Seattle ran a play for Allen, but his 3-pointer under
pressure from Ross missed and Kaman got the rebound. He was fouled
and made both free throws.

Mobley scored 18 points and made his first seven shots. Cassell
added 14.

"They can put points on the board in a hurry, but at times
they'll let you back into the game," Dunleavy said. "You've got
to execute and get a tempo and we did."

Watson and Rashard Lewis each scored 20 for Seattle. The Sonics
played without forward Chris Wilcox, who sprained his right foot in
Wednesday's loss to New Orleans.

Seattle has lost three straight.

"Their whole style of play dictated the second half," Watson
said.

Allen ignited a 19-4 run early in the second quarter that pushed
Seattle's lead to 18. He made four 3-pointers during a three minute
stretch and scored 14 of the 19 points. Seattle shot 60 percent in
the first half and made 9-of-16 3-point attempts.

Los Angeles scored the first eight points of the second half and
then slowly chipped away the deficit as Seattle went 6 minutes
without a field goal, missing 10 straight shots.

Mobley's 3-pointer with 3:38 left pulled the Clippers even at
76-76 and Cassell made two free throws to give Los Angeles its
first lead since 25-24.

Game notes
Seattle C Robert Swift sprained his right foot early in the
fourth quarter going for a rebound. He limped off and did not
return. ... Former Sonic Vladimir Radmanovic was greeted by a loud
chorus of boos when he entered with 6:49 left in the first.
Radmanovic was traded for Wilcox on Feb. 14.