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Durant leads Sonics past Raptors

Dec 22, 2007 - 7:25 AM By Paul Lowenberg PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Kevin Durant and the Seattle SuperSonics may start to be feeling more at home.

Durant scored 19 of his 27 points after halftime as the SuperSonics used a key second-half run to post a 123-115 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

The Sonics rookie shot 11-of-18 from the field, including 4-of-5 from the arc for the game.

"It's a very good win," Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "They (the Raptors) shot 50 percent and we gave up 115 points, but in the second half we were significantly better."

After losing their first seven games at Key Arena, the Sonics have won four of their last six. Durant has averaged 24.0 points over the last four home games, and it was his big third quarter that got Seattle started in the second half.

Trailing by six points at the half, Durant scored Seattle's first 11 points of the third quarter. The Sonics still trailed by three but used a 16-5 run to take an 87-79 lead with 58 seconds left in the quarter.

"I just wanted to keep being aggressive no matter if I was making my shots or missing my shots," Durant said.

Wally Szczerbiak made a 3-pointer to end the quarter and give the Sonics a 92-83 lead entering the fourth, and Seattle stretched the advantage to as many as 18 in the fourth quarter after Durant's fourth 3-pointer of the game with 4:08 to play.

"What I was proud about our team is that we didn't back down," Szczerbiak said. "We went right back at them. We didn't hang our heads, and that's what you've got to do in this league."

Toronto cut the deficit to 118-113 on Jose Calderon's layup with 1:16 remaining but was unable to get any closer.

"They did a great job of fighting back, and I was just hoping they would miss," Durant said. "It was a fun game to play. It was very high tempo. We came off a bad loss last game and we just wanted to come out and play hard."

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell was happy with the way his team fought back in the closing minutes. But he admitted it was too little, too late.

"I give our guys credit," Mitchell said. "We battled back, but then you have to try to play perfect basketball, and you make one mistake and it deflates you. Our defense the last two games has just been awful."

Szczerbiak scored 23 of Seattle's 57 bench points as the Sonics snapped a two-game losing streak.

Seattle, which scored a season-low 33 points in the first half in its loss to New Orleans on Wednesday, matched that in the first quarter, which ended in a 33-33 tie. The Sonics shot 64 percent (14-of-22) in the opening quarter.

"You can't win (giving up 56 percent shooting)," Mitchell said. "We talked to our guys about matchups, about establishing defensive principles and getting after guys. I told them about Durant. Any time a scorer makes his first three or four shots, it's going to be a long night."

Chris Bosh had 16 points and nine rebounds by halftime to help the Raptors take a 62-56 lead at the intermission. Bosh broke a 48-48 tie with his free throw with 5:46 left in the second quarter that triggered a 14-4 run that put Toronto up 62-52 with 1:36 left in the half.

Bosh finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds and Calderon added 15 and 16 assists for the Raptors, who lost their second straight game as they continue their season-long seven-game road trip.

"You have to give Seattle credit," Bosh said. "They deserved what they got. But you have got to play defense. We had a couple of breakdowns, and their confidence went up. I think we kind of misjudged their quickness."

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