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ROUNDUP

SuperSonics Losing Their Grip

March 22, 1998|From Associated Press

For the second night in a row, Seattle was playing a team it had not lost to all season.

And for the second night in a row, domination ceased to exist.

This time it was Saturday in Phoenix, where the Suns got 29 points from Cliff Robinson, 28 from Rex Chapman and 25 from Danny Manning, who had four of them in a 25-second span of the fourth quarter of a 109-102 victory over the SuperSonics.

It came a night after Seattle had lost to the Lakers for the first time all season.

"We knew we could beat Seattle, and they know they can beat us," Chapman said after Phoenix led from the first quarter on against a team it was 0-2 against. "So I don't know if we sent a message. It's just good to get a win."

Gary Payton had 30 points, six rebounds and five assists, but couldn't prevent Seattle from falling into a tie with idle Chicago for the best record in the NBA at 50-17.

"I've said all year that if we wanted to beat teams like Seattle [and] the Lakers, we were going to need special performances from certain guys, and we got it tonight," Sun Coach Danny Ainge said.

Vin Baker had 16 points and eight rebounds for the SuperSonics, and Detlef Schrempf had 14 points.

Before Manning took over, Seattle whittled away at 10-point deficits throughout the final quarter. Chapman gave the Suns their last double-digit lead, 103-93, on a three-point basket with 2:27 to go. Sam Perkins answered with a three-point basket 24 seconds later.

"Too little, too late," said Perkins, who scored six points in the final 2:03. "When you play a hot-shooting team like that and they're at home and get the majority of the calls, everything you do is negated."

Houston 103, Dallas 95--Charles Barkley had 23 points and 13 rebounds, Hakeem Olajuwon had 20 points and 13 rebounds and the Rockets extended their winning streak to six games at Dallas.

Matt Maloney had 19 points and Clyde Drexler 18 to help Houston to a five-game season sweep of the Mavericks.

Michael Finley's 26 points and Shawn Bradley's 23 points and nine rebounds paced the Mavericks, who had won two in a row and three of their previous five in their best stretch since opening the season at 3-0.

Minnesota 102, Vancouver 88--Stephon Marbury, criticized for shooting too much and passing too little, had 15 points and 13 assists at Minneapolis.

Marbury took only 10 shots, making six, and sparked a fourth-quarter rally for the Timberwolves, who swept the four-game season series from Vancouver.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 31 points, but only nine after halftime for the Grizzlies, who dropped their seventh game in a row. It is Vancouver's fourth losing streak of at least seven games this season.

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