Jason Kidd gets energized by the thought of matching up with other great point guards. It showed when Seattle's Gary Payton and his teammates came to town.
Kidd scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half, and the Suns beat the SuperSonics 99-86 Sunday night, handing them their first loss in seven games against Western Conference opponents.
"When you talk about a player like Gary, you're not going to hold him," said Kidd, who also had 14 assists and seven rebounds as the Suns beat the Sonics for for the sixth consecutive time. "You just try to contain him and hope that he misses some shots."
"I thought that for running on fumes, we still had a chance to win the game," Seattle coach Paul Westphal said about playing after beating Houston on the road the night before. "Ordinarily we are very good about taking care of the ball. We turned it over on some fast breaks."
Tom Gugliotta scored 16 points for Phoenix, including a three-point play that gave the Suns a 93-84 lead with 2:11 remaining. He muscled in a layup with 1:35 to play, sending the Suns ahead by nine points.
Horace Grant chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds, but couldn't keep the Sonics' four-game winning streak going.
"They're a good team," said Phoenix's Cliff Robinson, who scored 15 points. "They haa nice streak coming in, but that was a game that we needed to get. It was a division rival, so we wanted to try to go out there and work hard."
Phoenix had a 47-46 lead at halftime, and extended it to 74-65 in the third quarter with strong outside shooting.
Kidd sank a 3-pointer for Phoenix's first field goal of the period and gave the Suns a 69-62 lead on another 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining.
Todd Day hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer as the quarter ended.
Gugliotta made a 16-footer after a pass from Kidd, opening a 77-67 lead 1:20 into the fourth quarter. It was Phoenix's biggest lead to that point.
But Chuck Person sank a long jumper and Maxwell made a 3-pointer during a 5-0 surge by Seattle. When Person hit a 3-pointer with 6:07 to play, it cut the Sonics' deficit to 82-79.
Payton then nailed a jumper to get Seattle within two points with 5:02 remaining.
But the Suns put the game away with a 7-0 surge in the next 1:20, on Kidd's jumper and 3-pointer and Rodney Rogers' layup from Kidd, and went ahead 90-81.
"This would have been our best win, especially coming off what we've done through the long road trip," Baker said. "This would have been our best win, over a great team and a win in our conference on the road."
The Sonics led by as many as nine points in the first quarter, but the Suns caught up in the second, opening the quarter with a 7-2 spurt that got them within one point at 25-24 on a free throw by Cliff Robinson 2:41 into the period.
Oliver Miller tied it at 32 with a dunk with 5:41 remaining. Five seconds later, Westphal picked up a technical foul, and Hardaway sank the free throw to give Phoenix a 33-32 lead, its first of the game.
"We really came ready to play, but you've got to give credit to Seattle, because they took us out of our offense," coach Danny Ainge said.
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