A win: Sonics nip Clips

  • Saturday, November 18, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – These aren’t the same Los Angeles Clippers the Seattle SuperSonics are accustomed to. Gary Payton and his teammates nearly found that out the hard way.

Payton scored 25 points and Rashard Lewis added five of his 13 points on free throws in the final minute as the SuperSonics outlasted the Clippers 86-83 Saturday night.

“The Clippers are a real energetic team and they come out and play hard the whole game, even if they don’t win,” Lewis said. “None of us were shooting the ball well, including myself. But we played good on the defensive end and made them turn the ball over an enormous amount of times, and that’s what won the game.”

Lamar Odom had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who were trying for their third straight victory – which would have matched their longest winning streak last season.

“Our defense was sensational tonight,” said Seattle coach Paul Westphal, whose team forced the young Clippers into 30 turnovers. “We shot 34 percent from the field, 20 percent from threes and 63 percent from the line. So we didn’t win this with skills. We won it with hard work.”

Trailing by nine with less than four minutes left, the Clippers rallied. Tyrone Nesby’s 3-pointer trimmed Seattle’s lead to 78-76 with 2:13 left.

“They have a lot of talent on that team and they play hard,” echoed Patrick Ewing, who finished with 16 points and 10 recounds. “They play very good defense and they believe in themselves. They’re very athletic and they can jump. They made us take tough shots.”

When asked if he’d ever seen a team shoot 34.4 percent for an entire game and win, the former Knicks center grinned and said, “Yeah – New York.”

Payton sank one of two from the line to make the score 82-80. Nesby’s 3-point shot hit the back rim, and Lewis sank two free throws for a 84-80 lead with 9.6 seconds left.

Eric Piatkowski hit a 3-pointer with 5.3 seconds left, but Lewis calmly sank two more from the line.

“You have to execute down the stretch, especially when it comes down to free throws, or it can cost you the game,” Lewis said.

Piatkowski tried a desperation 3-point shot that fell short as time expired, and the Clippers protested to no avail that Piatkowski was fouled on the shot.

The Clippers, who had allowed fewer than 80 points in their previous four games, made only one jumper in the first 4:26 of the fourth quarter. But they sank nine of their first 10 free throws during a 13-7 run that sliced an eight-point deficit to 71-69 with 7:11 remaining.

The Sonics, aided by rookie Darius Miles’ two missed free throws, ran off the next seven points to take a 78-69 lead, matching their biggest of the game to that point.

“Inexperience plays a big part, especially finishing games at the end,” Odom said. “We knew what we wanted to do, get the ball in my hands, have me draw as many people as I could so that somebody could make the open shot.”

Payton led Seattle’s first-half scoring with 15 points despite missing nine shots. The Sonics took the lead for good with a 9-0 run that gave them a 35-26 advantage with 5:53 left in the half.

“We didn’t play our kind of basketball in the first half,” Odom said. “We played lackadaisical around the boards and I didn’t see anybody dive for the ball.”

The highlight of the half for the Staples Center crowd of 12,271 came in the final seconds of the second quarter when Nesby snuck up on Patrick Ewing’s blind side and stripped him of the ball at the top of the key before racing the length of the court for a tomahawk dunk.

Guard Jeff McInnis, one of the Clippers’ most reliable shooters, sat out the final 21 1/2minutes because of a bruised right knee that has bothered him since Thursday’s victory at Vancouver.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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