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Sonics Sneak By Spurs


Gary Payton and the Seattle SuperSonics got a much-needed lift at the expense of the struggling NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.

Payton had 24 points and 10 assists as the SuperSonics beat the Spurs 99-96 on Wednesday night for their second victory in seven games. San Antonio is 2-4 in its last six games.

"We came out with intensity and once you come out with intensity, you get everybody into it," Payton said. "It's good for us, especially being on the road."

Horace Grant added 16 points, and Brent Barry had 13 for the SuperSonics. Tim Duncan had 24 points, and David Robinson added 20 for the Spurs.

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Game Summary

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  • "Losing is never fun," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "We dug ourselves a hole and it made it tough for us to climb back. Seattle shot well."

    Payton scored seven straight points, the last two on a driving layup, to give Seattle a 91-83 lead with 6:00 to play.

    But Avery Johnson hit consecutive jumpers and Robinson made two free throws to bring San Antonio within three with 2:40 left.

    Chuck Person countered with a 3-pointer with 1:50 remaining to make it 94-89. After Johnson hit another jumper, Vin Baker made a free throw and Payton had a layup to give Seattle a 97-91 lead with 18.6 seconds to play. San Antonio could get no closer than three points the rest of the way.

    "Right now, overall, we are not getting it done," Johnson said. "A lot of these teams will not go to the playoffs. We are uilt for the playoffs. I have no doubt we have a chance to win the championship. But, we are not going to win it in the first week of January. Our energy right now is not good."

    Seattle shot 47.7 percent from the field and had 13 second-chance points.

    "We have a lot to be happy about," Seattle coach Paul Westphal said. "We got great performances from our starters, but we also got a lift from Greg Foster and Chuck Person. This is as good a win as you are going to see. It came at a good time after losing five-in-a-row and then going on the road."

    San Antonio is 12-3 at the Alamodome this season.

    "We don't look at it as if teams are better than us," said Person, who scored nine points in his return to San Antonio after playing for the Spurs from 1994-98. "The team that was hungriest that night got away with the win."

    San Antonio was coming off a 91-88 loss in Minnesota on Tuesday night.

    "Everybody has to play back-to-back games and have weird travel schedules," Popovich said. "I'm not going to use that as an excuse."

    "Everything seemed to go their way," said Duncan, who also had 12 rebounds. "We got back into the game and gave ourselves a chance, but we just didn't put it away."

    Seattle led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter and had a 51-44 advantage at halftime. Payton and Ruben Patterson each scored 11 points in the first half.

    Notes

  • Duncan has reached double figures in scoring in 158 of 165 career games.
  • No opposing team has scored 100 points at the Alamodome this season.
  • Payton hit a 3-pointer to increase his league-leading total to 84. He has made a 3-pointer in each of Seattle's first 32 games.

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