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SuperSonics Outlast Suns

Pro basketball: Kemp's 21 points and 11 rebounds lead Seattle to a 116-92 victory and into a second-round matchup against Houston.

May 04, 1997|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — The Seattle SuperSonics' dream of getting back to the NBA finals is still alive.

The SuperSonics survived a third-quarter rally from the Phoenix Suns and then pulled away for a 116-92 victory Saturday to win their first-round playoff series, 3-2.

"I like this," said Gary Payton, who scored 19 points for Seattle. "We're always in this situation."

The SuperSonics, who trailed, 2-1, in the series after losing at Phoenix last Tuesday, won't have long to celebrate. They'll play Monday and Wednesday nights at Houston against a team that beat them by 40 points in their final regular-season game last month.

Detlef Schrempf led the SuperSonics with 24 points, while Shawn Kemp had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and guard David Wingate had 19 points off the bench.

"We're mentally tougher because of this series," Seattle Coach George Karl said. "I saw a team that had their opportunities to break apart and didn't."

Phoenix fought back from a 22-point halftime deficit to trail by six points twice in the third quarter and Wesley Person's three-point basket to open the fourth quarter cut Seattle's seemingly secure lead to five points at 81-76.

But the SuperSonics got consecutive three-point baskets from Wingate and Schrempf as the Suns finally ran out of steam.

Person led the Suns with 26 points.

Kevin Johnson, 31, said after the game that he still intends to retire after 10 seasons in the NBA.

"In the last few minutes, this crossed my mind that this was my final NBA game," Johnson said. "And that was pretty emotional."

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