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Lewis, Sonics erase big deficit, defeat Jazz

Apr 8, 2007 - 6:16 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- The Seattle Supersonics are heading to the lottery and the Utah Jazz are fighting for home court in the playoffs. It wasn't obvious from either team's play.

Rashard Lewis scored 16 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Sonics to a 106-103 victory over the Jazz.

Lewis shot 12-of-19 from the floor, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range, and grabbed eight rebounds to help Seattle erase a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit.

"(Lewis) just got on fire," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We came out soft to start the third quarter and he got a couple or three baskets and then all of a sudden he got going and it didn't make any difference what we did or tried to do. We couldn't get close enough to guard him. He basically took the game over and won the ballgame for them."

Utah built its biggest lead when Gordan Giricek slammed home a dunk to cap a 9-0 run and push the lead to 84-62 with 46 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The team shot 65 percent in that quarter alone. But just one night after blowing a 16-point lead in Sacramento, the Jazz once again let up and Seattle took advantage.

With just 54 seconds on the clock, the Sonics pulled to within one, 101-100, as Mickael Gelabale buried a 3-pointer from the corner.

Thirty-three seconds later, Lewis gave his team its first lead since early in the second quarter when his 14-foot jumper put Seattle up for good.

"I just got my rhythm going in the second half and was able to knock down shots," Lewis said. "It felt like every shot I put up was going to go in. I didn't really hesitate."

The 6-10 forward scored seven points in the final 88 seconds and sealed the win with a pair of free throws with less than a second on the clock.

All in all, the Sonics outscored the Jazz 39-16 in the final period. The Sonics hardly missed down the stretch, misfiring on just two shots in the entire fourth quarter (12-of-14).

"Our defense is terrible at the end," Utah forward Carlos Boozer said. "Obviously Rashard had a great fourth quarter. ... I don't know if we should have doubled him, or done something else to get the ball out of his hands. But we've got to do a better job than that."

Meanwhile, the Jazz shot 7-of-21 and turned the ball over five times.

"We gave up 21 points on turnovers, and some of those were just totally unforced we just turned and threw the ball away," Sloan said. "It looked like we hadn't played with each other. That's what happens when pressure gets on you a little bit."

With the loss, the Jazz (48-28) watched their lead over the Houston Rockets (47-29) for home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs slip to just one game.

They had been on thin ice anyway, having dropped eight of their last nine on the road. But coming in to Saturday's meeting with Seattle, EnergySolutions Arena had been a save haven, as they had won seven straight at home.

Despite outrebounding the Sonics 38-25 and shooting 56.3 percent from the floor (45-of-80), the Jazz still came out on the wrong end.

"You can never put a finger on one thing, it's always a bunch of things," said Utah forward Matt Harpring, who had 10 points. "We've just got to figure it out - we let a 20-point lead collapse."

Earl Watson scored 15 points and dished out nine assists and Gelabale added nine points off the bench for Seattle, which shot 6-of-8 from the arc in the fourth quarter.

Utah's Deron Williams had 24 points and 13 assists to lead seven scorers in double-figures. Boozer recorded his 48th double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 boards.

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