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Sonics end 11-game slump in potential last Seattle matchup with Blazers

SEATTLE (AP) -- During any lull in the action, the chant of "Save Our Sonics!" began its crescendo, until it seemed the entire building was chanting at times.

Timeouts, dead balls, it didn't matter. Even during free throws, as Seattle's Kevin Durant found out.

"Messed me up a little bit," Durant said. "But I heard them and that's something I love. The crowd was into it tonight and that shows they're going to stick behind us."

Durant scored 23 points and the SuperSonics snapped their 11-game losing streak with a 97-84 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

But the overwhelming tone of this night was the future of the Sonics and the potential end of the I-5 rivalry with the Blazers.

With Sonics owner Clay Bennett pressing to move his team to Oklahoma City as early as next season, Monday night may have been the final time the longtime rivals faced off just 180 miles apart. The series started in 1970 and the Sonics hold a 98-94 lead.

The fact it could be the final meeting in Seattle wasn't lost on Portland coach Nate McMillan, whose No. 10 hangs in the KeyArena rafters after being retired by the Sonics.

"It's still hard for me to believe," McMillan said before the game about Seattle's potential move.

If he needed any reminder during the game, McMillan just needed to look right of the Portland bench, where a large group of supporters purchased a block of tickets, holding signs and leading chants showing their support for keeping the NBA in Seattle.

In response, a noticeable security presence was at the arena. A Sonics spokesman said the increased security was because of information received that fans may try and disrupt the game. There were no incidents, just the end of Seattle's second losing streak of 10 or more games this season.

"As we got going in the second half and when we made our runs and opened up the lead, they got into the game," Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "Our fans have been great all year."

Damien Wilkins added 20 points off the bench, and Jeff Green continued his improved play late in his rookie season with 16 points.

Martell Webster led Portland with 22 points, but 15 came in the first quarter when the Seattle native hit four 3-pointers. Another Seattle native, All-Star Brandon Roy, struggled all night, looking fatigued and leaving a number of shots short. Roy made just five of 17 attempts and finished with 11 points.

"I thought they were good shots. It's not like I was taking fallaways. A lot of them were in the paint, I was just missing," Roy said. "Since my first game here [in Seattle] I haven't been able to make a shot."

The Sonics took control in the third quarter, which coincided with Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge leaving with a mild right ankle sprain. Seattle pulled even at 56 on a free throw by Durant, then took its first lead since the opening moments on Durant's 3-pointer seconds later.

Durant and Johan Petro combined to score Seattle's final 16 points of the third quarter, building a 71-63 lead. The Sonics then hit their first six shots to start the fourth pushing the advantage to as much as 12.

Wilkins seemed to counter every Portland charge in the fourth and Durant's tough baseline leaner with 3:10 left gave Seattle a 92-79 lead. The Sonics also played their best defense in the season in the second half, holding Portland to 10 points in the third quarter and just 31 in the second half, both season lows for Seattle.

"We did a lot of things well, which was really good to see," Carlesimo said.

Aldridge had been playing the best ball of his young career, scoring 20-plus points in nine straight games before leaving early Monday night. He had 10 points in the first half. McMillan said afterward Aldridge was getting precautionary X-rays but the injury wasn't considered serious.

"I thought he was just going to the locker room to get re-taped and then he couldn't get back," McMillan said. "We'll just have to see where he's at and what he can do tomorrow."

Portland hosts Washington Tuesday night.

Game notes
Seattle played without F Chris Wilcox (finger) and G Earl Watson (finger and calf), its second and third leading scorers. Wilcox is expected to get a second opinion on his sprained right pinkie, possibly as early as Tuesday. ... Seattle signed G Eddie Gill to a 10-day contract Monday. Gill played five minutes.