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Collison returns from three-game absence in fine fashion

Dec 6, 2007 - 7:38 AM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- In his latest outing against a team from Los Angeles, Nick Collison ended up with a broken nose. On Wednesday, he was the one dishing out the punishment.

Collison set new season highs with 18 points and 17 rebounds for the Seattle SuperSonics as they posted a 95-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

A four-year veteran, the 6-10 forward was injured late in the third quarter of a loss at Los Angeles on November 27 when he was hit in the face as by the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, who made a swipe at the ball. As a result, Collison suffered a fractured right nasal wall and missed the last three games.

Collison was solid throughout, collecting 14 points and 13 boards through three quarters as Seattle outscored Los Angeles in each of the first three periods. He made 7-of-12 shots in 33 minutes.

"Getting Nick Collison back was enormous," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "This was his best game all year. He was fresh, but he did everything. He defended really well and he was a monster on the boards."

The Sonics were in command from the second quarter on, methodically building onto a 23-21 lead with 9:41 left in the second to enter the break with a 43-35 advantage.

"I felt good out there, I felt fresh," Collison said. "You never want to get hurt, but I think the rest might have helped me. I had a lot more energy than I've been having the last few games."

Seattle increased the lead to 73-59 with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter but saw its lead cut into single digits at 73-64 when Clippers guard Dan Dickau hit a 3-pointer to begin the fourth quarter.

Damien Wilkins and Wally Szczerbiak combined for all the points during the ensuing 8-0 run that increased Seattle's lead to 81-64 with just over 10 minutes remaining. The Clippers could not get any closer than nine points until Cuttino Mobley nailed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to account for the final margin.

Rookie Kevin Durant followed his career-low, six-point game on Sunday against Golden State with 18 points for Seattle.

"The previous game, we played terrible," Durant said. "We wanted to bounce back and get a win. We weathered the storm. They made a surge and kept coming back but we were aggressive and went to the basket and kept getting fouled. And today, we did a great job of contesting shots."

Szczerbiak and Wilkins each scored 17 points for the Sonics, who have won two out of their last three games after dropping six straight.

Corey Maggette scored 23 points and Chris Kaman added 19 and 14 rebounds for the Clippers, who lost their seventh straight game - their longest losing streak since February 4-23, 2005, when they lost eight consecutive contests.

"We probably missed 15 layups, and it's not like we had Dikembe Mutombo sitting over there blocking shots," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We got to the rim and we didn't finish. That allowed them to keep their lead."

Forward Tim Thomas, who was just two-of-14 from the field and finished with seven points, echoed his coach's thoughts.

"It was one of those nights," Thomas said. "It seemed like we missed everything, chippies and, of course, the long-range shots. You take your chances with those, but you have point-blank layups and we're missing those."

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