Thursday , Nov , 18 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Great Eight: Sonics down Nets to extend win streak

East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – Rashard Lewis scored 17 points as
Seattle recorded its eighth straight victory with a 79-68 triumph over New
Jersey at Continental Airlines Arena.

Vladimir Radmanovic and Danny Fortson each delivered 14 points off the bench
for the surprising Sonics, who have not lost since a season-opening defeat to
the Los Angeles Clippers.

“It gives you a little confidence, knowing you can compete in this league,”
Lewis said. “We can see the difference in the professionalism of this team.”

Richard Jefferson compiled 20 points and 10 rebounds for the struggling Nets,
who dropped their fourth game in a row. Travis Best added 13 points in 17
minutes, while Alonzo Mourning nearly had a double-double, finishing with 10
points and nine boards.

New Jersey held Sonics star Ray Allen to 14 points, nearly half his average
coming in, but committed 23 turnovers as the team’s offensive woes continued.
The Nets entered the contest averaging a league-worst 82.7 points per contest
and were held under 70 for the third time in eight games.

“Right now we’re playing stellar defense, but we beat ourselves,” said
Jefferson. “We’re talented enough to win, but we can’t let these games get
away.”

The teams were deadlocked at 44-44 with less than three minutes to play in the
third quarter when the Sonics reeled off nine straight points to forge ahead
to stay. After Seattle took the lead on a pair of Fortson free throws, Lewis
laid home an alley-oop pass from Antonio Daniels for a four-point edge.
Lewis then sunk a three-pointer with 1:28 to go in the period and Allen hit a
22-footer from the baseline seconds later to put the Sonics up 53-44.

Best, who had all of his points in the fourth quarter, keyed a late charge
which trimmed Seattle’s lead to 64-60 with 3:13 to play. However, Lewis, who
finished 3-of-4 from three-point range, buried a trey on the ensuing
possession and New Jersey never seriously threatened thereafter.

“We knew this would be a gut-check for us,” said Sonics head coach Nate
McMillan. “It was a scrap and a fight for 48 minutes. Defensively we were able
to hang on until we could make some shots.”

The Nets scored the first 11 points of the third quarter to turn a seven-point
halftime deficit into a 40-36 lead at the six-minute mark.

After a forgettable first quarter in which both clubs combined for just 24
points, Seattle began to pull away midway through the second. Radmanovic
drained a three-pointer with 7:05 before intermission and Lewis followed with
an inside layup to cap a 9-2 run which extended the Sonics’ advantage to
28-17.

Back-to-back baskets by Jefferson got New Jersey to within seven points with
under five minutes left in the half and the teams traded buckets over the rest
of the period, leaving Seattle with a 36-29 lead at the break.

The Sonics ended an ugly first stanza with a 13-11 edge. Seattle missed its
first 10 shots from the floor and shot just 31 percent for the quarter, while
the Nets committed eight turnovers and made just four field goals during the
period.

“It looks like we left our shooting in Philly,” McMillan joked in reference to
Tuesday’s win at Philadelphia.

NJN SEA