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Allen fuels Sonics to victory, ends six-game losing streak

SEATTLE (AP) -- For the next two months, Bob Hill figures every
game will be a new experiment -- if not an experience.

Injuries and inconsistencies forced the SuperSonics coach to
devise a revised lineup Saturday and it worked for a 110-97 victory
over the Toronto Raptors. Ray Allen scored 28 points after missing
nine games with a bone contusion in his right foot as Seattle
snapped a season-high six-game losing streak.

Luke Ridnour added 18 points and was one of six Sonics in double
figures.

"We had six guys in double figures so the ball moved," Hill
said. "It was good to see Ray back out there. I thought overall he
played very well."

It was the Sonics' first game without forward Rashard Lewis, who
injured his tendon sheath in his right hand Wednesday. He had
surgery Friday and could miss two months. Lewis was averaging 21.9
points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists -- all career bests.

"The experiment worked tonight," said Hill, who started a
smaller lineup that included aggressive 6-foot-8 center Danny
Fortson.

It was only Fortson's second start in his 2½ seasons (93 games)
with Seattle. He had six rebounds in the first quarter and nine in
his 14 minutes of play. It also was his first game back after
missing 18 games with a sore right knee.

"This is the way it's going to have to be (with Lewis out).
Everyone's going to have to dig it out," Fortson said. "There's a
lot of basketball left to play. We might get hurt, but nobody's
going to quit."

T.J. Ford led the Raptors with 24 points, 16 in the second half.
Reserve Fred Jones had 19 points and Jose Calderon had a
season-high 10 assists. Toronto now returns home after a 2-2 West
Coast trip.

Hill said before the game that Allen's return provides the
chance for a fast start, which had been missing in his absence.
Allen gave Seattle that, as he made his first four attempts to give
the Sonics a 20-10 lead.

Toronto did not have consecutive baskets until 3:50 left in the
first and trailed 36-22 by the end of the quarter. It was the
Sonics' highest-scoring quarter this season. The Sonics also had
their highest halftime output, leading 64-55 at intermission.

"The first quarter was just a bad quarter for us," Ford said.
"We didn't come out and play our style of basketball. We took
quick shots and we really weren't playing good defense."

The Raptors, who trailed by as many as 16 points in the first
half, reduced the margin to 64-59 two minutes into the third
quarter. Coming out of a timeout, Allen then drilled the first of
his two 3-pointers during a 10-0 run for a 74-59 lead.

"I tried to do whatever I could to minimize my energy, give me
scoring opportunities whenever I could and stay efficient out
there," said Allen, who played 41 minutes. "In the fourth quarter
I got a little exhaustion, but I tried to hide it as best I
could."

Second-chance baskets by Calderon and Jorge Garbajosa brought
the Raptors back within six. Ford took over in the final 30 seconds
of the third, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to make it 84-81
entering the fourth period.

But the Sonics, led by Allen, gradually pulled away in the final
period. Allen's 3-pointer with 7:10 left made it 95-87 and Seattle
maintained an eight-point cushion over the final five minutes. A
key play was a dunk by Nick Collison with 5:38 left -- on an assist
from Allen -- that gave the Sonics a 97-88 lead.

"Those are the plays in the fourth quarter we have to make,"
Allen said. "As we do that, we'll win more. That's where we've
been losing a lot of games.

"With Rashard out of the lineup, we miss a lot," he added.
"Between him and I scoring 20-plus points a night, there's no one
that's going to replace him. I'm not going to score the points that
he's not going to score. Somebody else has to step up. Sometimes it
might be three guys. It may change on a nightly basis, from game to
game."

The Raptors played without center Chris Bosh for the ninth
straight game. He is recovering from a sore right knee but is
expected to resume running next week. Toronto is 5-4 without him.

"Last time when we went out West, we were 0-5," Jones said.
"This time we're 2-2. So that's positive. We're making a step
forward. But of course, we're not happy with losing these games.
We're not happy with a losing record. It's growing pains."

Game notes
Seattle officials have not indicated whether they will sign
veteran guard Penny Hardaway to a contract. He worked out for the
team on Monday. ... With their victory Friday over Portland, the
Raptors moved into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic
Division for the first time since Nov. 25, 2003, when they were
6-7. ... The Raptors have already played 18 road games, most in the
league. They return home to play five of their next six games and
11 of their next 16 at Air Canada Centre.