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Ridnour hits game-winning shot as Sonics top Pacers

Dec 2, 2006 - 6:22 AM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Luke Ridnour made it difficult on himself, but the Seattle SuperSonics liked how it turned out.

Ridnour dropped in a runner as time expired to atone for a pair of missed free throws as the SuperSonics defeated the Indiana Pacers, 105-103, to snap a three-game losing streak.

Nick Collison scored a career-high 21 points and Ray Allen added 18 for Seattle, which shot 47 percent (40-of-85) from the field and had all five starters in double figures.

"(Winning) has been an unusual thing around these parts and it was in an unusual fashion, I must say," Allen said. "We have the ability on this team with guys who can make that shot at the end of the game. We had a rhythm on offense.

"We developed that early. It was good for me to see Luke step up and make that shot after he missed those two free throws."

However, Seattle coach Bob Hill pointed to the team's defensive effort as a catalyst for offensive success.

"To finally get a win makes me feel really good," Seattle coach Bob Hill said. "I thought the key to the game was that we really got at it at both ends of the floor. We pushed the ball and shared it early."

A career 86.5 percent foul shooter, Ridnour missed two free throws with the Sonics leading, 103-101, and 21 seconds remaining. Pacers center Jermaine O'Neal took advantage, nailing an 18-foot jumper with 6.3 seconds left to tie the game, 103-103.

After Hill called a timeout, the 6-3 Ridnour improvised, slashing into the lane and hitting a difficult floater over 6-9 Danny Granger at the buzzer.

"It was a middle pick-and-roll so there was not enough time to feed Rashard (Lewis), so I just had to go," Ridnour said. "I was able to get a little edge and get it up there."

"We had six-plus seconds, which is plenty of time," Hill said. "We ran the same set that we did the possession before, but I ran Rashard right into a middle pick-and-roll and told them they were probably going to switch it (so) you've got to turn the corner and go. It worked. Plays only work if the players do. That's why the play worked."

A fourth-year point guard, Ridnour scored 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting and dished out six assists. Collison was 8-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the line and grabbed eight rebounds. He also set the pick that freed his teammate.

"(Ridnour) does that all the time," Collison said. "If it was anybody else, you wouldn't think so, but he (has) a knack for making those shots."

However, Hill thought Collison's performance was the most important thing for the team going forward.

"We've all had our fingers crossed, knocking on wood and praying," Hill said. "Nick contributes every night that he plays. We desperately need him to start scoring the ball. I'm happy for him."

Al Harrington scored 28 points and Stephen Jackson added 13 for Indiana, which shot 53 percent (40-of-75) but saw its two-game winning streak snapped.

"A loss is a loss," Jackson said. "I get mad when we lose by 20 and I get mad when I lose by one. So, you got to take your hat off to Ridnour. He hit a tough shot, but anytime we lose, I'm upset about."

O'Neal, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds, left briefly in the first quarter with a strained hamstring but returned and battled down the stretch.

"He felt something in (his hamstring)," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was bothering him enough in the first half where he felt like it might really tear or something. It got worked out in the first half and he was able to go in the second half and he gave us some great minutes, considering the fact that he wasn't 100 percent."

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