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Szczerbiak, Sonics keep Grizzlies struggling on the road

Feb 20, 2008 - 6:56 AM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Wally Szczerbiak and the Seattle SuperSonics added to the Memphis Grizzlies' road woes.

Szczerbiak scored 24 points, including the go-ahead basket late in the contest, as Seattle extended Memphis' road losing streak to 10 games with a 108-101 victory on Tuesday night.

Earl Watson added a game-high 26 points and nine assists for Seattle, which avoided what would have been the first season sweep by the Grizzlies since the franchise's inception in 1995.

"A lot of guys played well," Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "Earl (Watson) was exceptional. Wally (Szczerbiak) struggled early but then had a real good second half. In the second half they were missing some of the shots they were making in the first half, and we obviously played better defense."

Playing without rookie leading scorer Kevin Durant, who was a late scratch with flu-like symptoms, the Sonics trailed by as many as 19 in the third quarter before rallying to take the lead entering the fourth.

Neither team led by more than five points during the fourth quarter, and Szczerbiak's jumper tied the game at 101-101 with 2:14 remaining.

The score remained the same until Szczerbiak put Seattle in front for good, making a running baseline jumper and converting the free thow after he was fouled for a 104-101 lead with 31 seconds to play.

"I was just trying to draw the foul," Szczerbiak said. "I knew I had Jason Collins in a precarious position. I knew I could get some contact and get the foul. Then I just flipped it up and it went in."

Rudy Gay missed a pair of 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds and the Sonics went 4-of-4 from the foul line to seal the victory.

"They came out with more energy than us in the second half," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. "Despite the fact that we stretched it to (19) points in the second half, we couldn't close it because we started turning the ball over and not getting back on defense."

Memphis went without a point over the final three minutes of the contest, missing all five field goal attempts and two free throws, as Seattle ended the game on a 10-0 run.

"We gave up 39 points in the second half and that was the key," Sonics center Nick Collison said. "In the first half they were getting so many easy ones right at the basket. We just kept playing and didn't get too caught up in the score."

After leading by 14 at the break, the Grizzlies took their largest lead at 69-50 on Gay's 3-pointer with 10:15 left in the third quarter.

But Seattle came roaring back on the heels of a 30-9 run to end the period with an 80-78 lead. Watson had nine points in the run while Szczerbiak contributed a pair of 3-pointers during the comeback.

Gay finished with 23 points and Hakim Warrick added 22 for the Grizzlies, who dropped to just 4-21 away from home this season.

Leading by one point early in the second quarter, Memphis went on a 14-3 run to take a 49-37 advantage with 4:22 left in the first half. Mike Conley Jr. later knocked down a jumper to extend the Grizzlies' bulge to 62-48 at the intermission.

"We thought we had a big chance of winning this game," Conley said. "We really needed the win."