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Seattle withstands Blazers' final-period rally

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Rookie Damien Wilkins picked up where
Rashard Lewis left off. And Ray Allen picked up where -- well, Ray
Allen left off.

Allen returned from an ankle injury and scored 19 points, and
Wilkins filled in admirably after Lewis left with an injury in the
Seattle SuperSonics' 96-91 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers
on Thursday night.

Wilkins, a rookie out of Georgia, had 21 points.

"He shot it like he knew it was going to make it," Allen said
of his young teammate. "He shot it like he had been there a
million times before."

It was Seattle's fourth straight victory, but it wasn't easy.
The Sonics had to overcome a furious fourth-quarter Trail Blazers
rally without forward Lewis, who left early with left knee

Portland has lost seven straight and 11 of 12 since firing head
coach Maurice Cheeks and replacing him with Kevin Pritchard.

The Sonics erased a first-half deficit with an inspired 18-3 run
in the third quarter, and Wilkins' dunk gave the Sonics their
biggest lead of the game -- 72-61. But the Blazers came back with
three straight 3-pointers -- two from Damon Stoudamire and another
from Derek Anderson -- to close the gap to 72-70, and Stoudamire hit
two more 3s to give Portland a 79-77 lead.

Wilkins' 3-pointer put the Sonics up 92-91 with 1:09 left, and
he added a pair of free throws and had a one-handed dunk to finish
off the scoring.

"The thing about Wilkins is he's paid his dues," Sonics coach
Nate McMillan said. "He's in the gym every day. He works hard. And
he hit a big three at the end there. That's a good shot for him
because he's open."

Lewis left the game after just 10 minutes, but his tendinitis is
not believed to be serious. He said afterward that it has been a
lingering issue through the second half of the season and Thursday
night the knee never loosened up.

"They might want to hold me out because we play again within 24
hours," Lewis said about his chances for starting against the New
York Knicks in Seattle Friday night.

Stoudamire made five straight 3-pointers during the Blazers'
late run and had 19 points. Pritchard, who has said the Blazers are
going to focus on evaluating young talent as the season winds down,
leaned harder on his veterans against northwest rival Seattle.

"It's tough," said Darius Miles, who finished with 17 points.
"But it's good for progress. We looked good out there. We looked
like a team."

Allen sprained his right ankle in Sunday's win over the Los
Angeles Lakers. Without him, the Sonics beat the Milwaukee Bucks
92-84 on Tuesday.

The Sonics trailed by as many as seven points but went on an 8-0
run midway through the second quarter to take a 33-31 lead on
Wilkins' running jumper and a free throw.

The Blazers responded with a 15-5 run, capped by Shareef
Abdur-Rahim's short jumper, for a 46-38 lead. Portland led 48-40 at
the half.

Blazers forward Ruben Patterson was activated from the injured
list Thursday after he missed 11 games with a sore left knee.

Patterson was averaging 10.7 points and 4.1 assists when he was
placed on the injured list on March 3. Against Seattle he had 13
points off the bench.

Game notes
The Blazers were without center Theo Ratliff, who did not
dress with a sore right shoulder. ... When Ridnour first scored for
the Sonics in the second quarter, many in the crowd exclaimed
"Luuuuuuuke!" Despite the northwest rivalry with the Sonics,
Ridnour is a fan favorite, having attended the University of
Oregon. ... Remaining on the Blazers' injured list are guard Nick
Van Exel, who has an arthritic left knee, and forward Zach
Randolph, who is expected to have surgery on his right knee and is
out for the rest of the season.