for this game

Lewis, Sonics edge undermanned Clippers

Mar 2, 2007 - 8:13 AM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Rashard Lewis had to work a little harder in this one.

With leading scorer Ray Allen out, Lewis collected 31 points and seven rebounds and Chris Wilcox chipped in 12 and 13 as the Seattle SuperSonics held on for a 77-75 victory over the also shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers.

In 44 minutes, Lewis drained 10-of-19 shots and made 9-of-10 free throws for just his second 30-point performance since missing 22 games with an injured hand.

"I knew I was going to have to take more shots (Thursday) and try to score a little bit more," Lewis said.

"We forget how good he is," Sonics coach Bob Hill said. "He had an ordinary game here against Sacramento, then came back here to play them and never looked back. It didn't take much time to get his rhythm back, his timing back and his conditioning back."

Allen sat out due to inflammation in his left ankle and is listed as day-to-day.

"I saw him (Allen) on the training table doing his routine," Lewis said. "Later, I saw him in street clothes and learned from reporters that he wasn't playing.

The Clippers were without guards Shaun Livingston (season-ending knee surgery) and Sam Cassell (groin). They also lost forward Tim Thomas in the fourth quarter with back spasms.

Late in the fourth quarter, Lewis connected on a pair of free throws, giving the Sonics a 75-71 advantage with 52 seconds remaining.

"My legs were getting tired and my shots were falling short and I was just trying to be aggressive and go to the basket and try to get to the free-throw line," Lewis said about the fourth quarter.

Elton Brand hit a turnaround jumper over Nick Collison to bring the Clippers within one point just 10 seconds later, but Lewis answered right back with a driving layup past Brand with 24 seconds to play to rebuild a four-point edge.

Los Angeles got two free throws from Corey Maggette and had a chance to tie the game after forcing a turnover on the in-bounds pass, but Brand misfired on a jumper as the buzzer sounded.

"(Brand) had a pretty good shot but we did a good job all night just keeping our hands up," Wilcox said. "We contested all his shots and at the end he just didn't have enough."

Seattle has won four straight games at KeyArena.

Brand finished with 22 points and eight rebounds and Cuttino Mobley had 18 points and three steals for the Clippers, who had their three-game winning streak ended.

"Both teams struggled offensively," Brand said. "I tried to be more aggressive in the second half, but it definitely hurt without Sam. It's a very difficult loss for us. Too many mistakes. It was a missed opportunity."

On Wednesday, Brand and Maggette both scored 18 points to lead six players in double figures as Los Angeles posted a 96-91 win over Seattle in the first of game their home-and-home series.

With the loss, Los Angeles fell back into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.