Payton Lifts Sonics By Blazers

South Korean patissier Jeong Hong-yeon of a Tokyo hotel gives a finishing touch to his latest piece of chocolate specially made for Valentine's Day in Tokyo. The piece commemorates the 250th anniversary of Austrian composer Mozart's birth, in the shape of a music score of his "Turkish March" studded with 107 diamonds, worth $4.25 million.

Gary Payton was great and so was his backup.

Payton had 32 points and six assists, and reserve point guard Moochie Norris hit four straight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Seattle SuperSonics beat the Portland Trail Blazers 91-88 Sunday.

Payton and Norris combined for 21 in the fourth quarter as the Sonics outscored the Blazers 30-17. While Payton is an All-Star, Norris played in the CBA last season for the Fort Wayne Fury.

"It was great to see him playing like that," Payton said. "We needed it."

Payton went 11-for-18 from the field and 6-for-6 from the foul line. Norris finished with 12 points and three assists.

"Gary had a great game but Moochie really hurt us," said Damon Stoudamire, who led the Blazers with 19 points and nine assists. "We could have withstood Gary's points but the others were unexpected."

Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy said the Sonics comeback should teach his team a lesson.

"In order to win consistently, we need to learn to close a team out," he said.

Payton's 20-footer from the corner with 1:30 remaining put the Sonics ahead to stay at 89-86. Stoudamire's driving basket cut the deficit to 89-88 but Portland did not score again.

"When Gary came back, he played like he just wasn't going to let us lose," Sonics coach Paul Westphal said. "We have always known he (Moochie) is a great shooter. Now some other people know he is a greater shooter, too."

Dale Ellis hit two free throws with 2.4 seconds left for Seattle. Isaiah Rider missed a 20-footer with one second left and the Sonics controlled the rebound to beat the Blazers for the fifth straight time and 11th time in their last 13 meetings.

The Blazers led 71-61 going into the fourth quarter, but the Sonics rallied behind Norris.

Norris, a CBA All-Star last year, hit four consecutive 3-pointers and Ellis hit another shot from behind the arc to tie it 73-73. Neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way.

The Sonics took a 75-73 lead on Detlef Schrempf's layup, but the Blazers countered with a 5-0 run for a 78-75 lead.

Norris' 3 tied it again before Portland regained the lead on a 3-pointer by Greg Anthony.

In the third quarter, Seattle's Olden Polynice tangled with Portland's Arvydas Sabonis on a rebound. Polynice shoved Sabonis and got a technical foul.

The Blazers big front line controlled Vin Baker. The All-Star forward had eight points on 4-for-13 shooting and was 0-for-4 at the free throw line.

The Blazers led the Sonics 49-44 at halftime. Portland's reserves outscored the Sonics' subs 21-5 in the first half and made eight of 15 shots. Seattle reserves were 0-for-6 in the opening two periods. ^Notes: Mike Holmgren, new coach of the Seattle Seahawks, watched the game next to Paul Allen, owner of the Trail Blazers and the Seahawks. ... Sabonis overthrew a lob pass for Bria Grant and swished the Blazers first 3-pointer of the season with 5:33 left in the first quarter.

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