Sonics battle back to beat T-wolves in OT

  • By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
  • Sunday, March 2, 2008 11:13pm
  • SportsSports

MINNEAPOLIS — After leading by as many as 15 points, the Seattle SuperSonics were on the verge of losing their fifth straight game to one of the league’s bottom feeders.

But a funny thing happened. Instead of another game slipping through their slippery grasps, as the Sonics have done many times this season, Seattle dug deep and scratched back from a four-point deficit with 15 seconds remaining against Minnesota to force overtime.

In the extra period, Seattle’s experience proved the difference, as the Sonics began their seven-game road trip with an improbable 111-108 victory over the Wolves Sunday afternoon in front of 11,508 fans at the Target Center.

“We had some things go our way for the first time (in a while) and we’re not used to that,” said Sonics guard Earl Watson, who buried a dagger from beyond the arc in OT to push the lead to five with just over a minute left.

“We’re usually on the other end of it,” he said. “So it was good that we had things go our way tonight, especially after the last week we had.”

Seattle (16-43) was just seconds away from another head-scratching loss. Minnesota’s Al Jefferson made two free throws to give the Wolves a 101-97 lead with 15 seconds left, but somehow Seattle managed to tie the game.

Luke Ridnour raced down the floor and nailed a key 3-pointer from the top of the circle, cutting Minnesota’s lead to 102-101 with 11.3 seconds left.

“They just kept backing up and I was able to get it off and thankfully it went in,” Ridnour said. “And it gave us a chance at the end.”

Seattle’s Chris Wilcox fouled Corey Brewer on the ensuing possession. Brewer made the first free throw but missed the second. Damien Wilkins retrieved the rebound and handed off to Ridnour, who found a wide-open Kevin Durant streaking down the sideline. Durant finished at the rim, tying the game at 102-102 with 4.2 seconds left.

Minnesota (12-46) got the ball to Brewer for a long jumper from the right corner as time expired, but the shot skidded off the rim.

Both Ridnour (13 points, seven assists, no turnovers) and Watson (15 points, nine assists) had solid games at the point for the Sonics. And Chris Wilcox (18 points, 15 rebounds) and Nick Collison (14 points, eight rebounds) played tough inside.

Durant finished with a team-high 25 points, including two free throws late in the overtime to give Seattle a 3-point edge with 17 seconds left in overtime.

Rashard McCants and Randy Foye both missed 3-pointers at the end that could have sent the game into a second overtime.

Seattle’s veterans took over in the extended period, as Watson worked the clock for good shots, and Wilcox and Collison collapsed on Jefferson and protected the basket better inside.

Seattle jumped to a big early lead and was still on top at halftime, 58-51, despite an 11-3 run by the Wolves in the second period. The Sonics should have led by more, but turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, 22 overall. Seattle’s turnovers led to 26 points for Minnesota.

The Sonics offset the turnovers by getting to the free-throw line, finishing 19-for-22 from the line, compared to Minnesota’s 13-for-22 from the stripe.

Minnesota took its first lead since early in the game with 1.8 seconds left in the third quarter on two free throws by Craig Smith. From there, Seattle had to play from behind in the fourth quarter, but managed to steer the game back its way to begin the long road trip with a win.

“If we would have lost this game we would have heard it all week from coach (P.J. Carlesimo),” Watson said. “And you don’t want to hear that all week.”

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