Sonics Super Over Wizards

Gary Payton, upset that he didn't handle the ball enough in his previous game, couldn't complain about that Wednesday night.

Reserve Vernon Maxwell scored 24 points, and Payton added 20 points and tied a career high with 17 assists as the Seattle SuperSonics continued to dominate the Washington Wizards with a 109-95 victory Wednesday night.

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  • "Everyone was open and I got the ball to them," said Payton, who was irked that he didn't have the ball more in the latter stages of Seattle's loss in Philadelphia on Monday.

    Seattle, which improved to 4-1, beat the Wizards for the 20th time in 24 meetings.

    Ruben Patterson scored 14 points and Vin Baker 15 as all five Sonics starters finished in double figures.

    Richard Hamilton had 15 points, and Isaac Austin and Juwan Howard scored 14 apiece for Washington, which has dropped four straight since winning its opener. The Wizards, who started the game with a makeshift backcourt, have allowed 100 or more points in each of those losses.

    Washington's regular starting tandem of point guard Rod Strickland and shooting guard Mitch Richmond was missing.

    Richmond sat out the game with a sore left knee and was replaced by Hamilton. Strickland was pulled from the starting lineup 45 minutes before the opening tip for undisclosed reasons. He was reportedly late for practice Tuesday.

    "He broke a team rule," said Wizards coach Gar Heard. "We have rules that everybody has to abide by"

    Strickland entered the game with 6:24 left in the first period and the Wizards down 15-8. He finished with 14 points and four assists.

    Payton came within three rebounds of his ninth career triple-double. He set up Maxwell's basket with 9:43 left in the game to tie his career high in assists, set March 27, 1996 against Charlotte.

    Seattle used an effective transition game to take a 35-27 lead after one quarter. Payton had nine assists and Brent Barry scored the first eight points of an early 14-2 run.

    "We are an up-tempo type team. ... We wanted to come out with our guns blazing, playing with the lineup change they made," said Barry, who had 13 points.

    Strickland warmed up in the second period, scoring eight of his 12 first-half points. Hamilton's jumper from the left side got Washington within 60-58 with 57 seconds remaining in the second quarter but the Wizards trailed 65-58 at the half.

    A three-point play by Patterson put the Sonics ahead by 12 with 6:36 left in the third period. Howard's jumper got the Wizards within 76-74 with 3:44 left, but Maxwell connected on two 3-pointers and Payton hit another in the final 2:45 of the quarter.

    "This is the third game in a row that's happened," Heard said. "They make a run and we get into our old habits. We have to figure out how to make a run."


  • Payton's nine first-quarter assists tied the franchise record for a Washington opponent. Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers had nine in a quarter on Jan. 5, 1986.
  • Richmond, the lone Wizard to start all 50 games last year, last missed a game because of injury on April 19, 1998.
  • Washington's Aaron Williams, who played the past two seasons with Seattle, scored 14 points against his former team.
  • Chris Whitney, who pulled double-duty starting for Strickland and filling in for Richmond, had a career-high 11 assists.

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