for this game

Durant helps Sonics avoid home-and-home sweep

Feb 23, 2008 - 7:50 AM By Paul Lowenberg PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Kevin Durant scored 17 points as the shorthanded Seattle SuperSonics held off a second-half rally en route to a 99-87 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

The SuperSonics had six players in double-figures as they successfully avenged a 92-88 loss to the Trail Blazers on Thursday, avoiding a home-and-home sweep.

"Guys gave us good minutes off the bench, and we were able to shorten people's rotations," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "Ten guys played and ten guys contributed."

Travis Outlaw scored 26 points and Brandon Roy added 19, six rebounds and five assists as Portland shot under 40 percent for the second straight night, suffering its sixth straight loss on the road and sixth loss in its last seven games.

"I think our defense is real active, especially the last two nights," said Sonics point guard Earl Watson, who finished with 11 points and four assists. "We came out early and created a cushion and just kind of built on that throughout the game."

The Sonics led the entire game and opened the third period with an 8-4 run capped by Durant's basket and free throw to forge a 60-42 lead with 6:51 left in the quarter.

But the Blazers rallied behind eight points by Outlaw to cut their deficit to 71-60 heading into the final period.

Portland narrowed the deficit to 73-64 following a pair of free throws by Roy, but Seattle went on a 13-4 run highlighted by a thunderous dunk by Chris Wilcox to seal the victory.

"They came out like they were pretty upset about the game (on Thursday), and we kind of played like we could just turn it on and off, and we're not good enough to try to do that yet," Roy said.

Durant, who did not play in the fourth quarter, had 10 points and Watson contributed nine as the Sonics took a 52-38 lead into the locker room.

Reserve guard Mickael Gelabale came off the bench in the second quarter to score eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as Seattle extended its lead to 46-27 with 4:09 left in the half.

Outlaw also scored eight points, with a pair of threes to help Portland cut its deficit to 48-35 with 1:12 remaining before the intermission. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 15 of his 23 points in the opening half, but the Blazers made just 14-of-42 shots from the field during that span.

"I don't think we quite got the message of this type of game," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "It's almost like a playoff game where you just beat a team 24 hours ago and, mentally, you have to be just as hungry to come out and play with a sense of urgency, and that didn't happen."

Seattle was playing shorthanded for the second night in a row as it waited for three of its four new players - Adrian Griffin, Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall - to arrive in town and take their physicals after being acquired in trades Thursday.

Center Francisco Elson, the other newcomer who came over from the San Antonio Spurs, made his Sonics' debut in the first quarter. He scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting in just over 11 minutes.

Elson will get more time at center with the injury Thursday to Robert Swift, who was just beginning a comeback from earlier injuries when he suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and left the game. "If he's not going to be available for a long time, it changes some of the opportunities for the new guys," Carlesimo said. "It's a concern for sure."

In his third NBA season out of high school, the 7-1 center missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the preseason. Swift had played in just eight games this year before Thursday's injury.