- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Rashard Lewis spent most of his summer trying to get a maximum contract out of the Seattle SuperSonics, which would have paid him in the neighborhood of $90million.

He didn't get that much, settling instead for about $65million, but last night against the Washington Wizards he looked like he should be among the highest-paid players in the league.

Lewis led a balanced Seattle attack with a career-high 37 points on 16-for-19 shooting as Seattle ended the Wizards' three-game winning streak with a 101-95 victory before an announced sellout crowd of 20,173 at MCI Center.

The loss also forced the Wizards (4-4) to look to tomorrow night's game against Utah as another opportunity for coach Doug Collins to earn his 300th victory.

Seattle, which never trailed in the second half, shot 73 percent from the field in the third quarter.

"I told [my players] coming in that that's the best shooting team in the NBA," Collins said. "They shot 76 percent in the third quarter. Rashard Lewis was 16-for-19 in the game man, he was something else. Gary Payton, 16 assists. And Brent Barry makes every big shot. I don't know anybody who can come close to shooting like this team."

Barry's biggest points of the night came with 8.3 seconds to play after the Wizards had rallied from 16 points down in the third quarter to trail 97-95 when Michael Jordan (a season-high 25 points) sank a running 12-footer with 26 seconds left.

But at the other end, Seattle's Desmond Mason whipped a pass to Barry, who was loosely guarded not far from Washington's bench. Barry sank a 25-footer over Jared Jeffries, who ran out at him but gave the deadly shooter too much of a look at the basket.

"When I saw that, I was like, 'wow that's the one person we do not want to leave open,'" said Bryon Russell, who finished with 10 points for the Wizards.

Lewis was the hot man, but he was not alone. Barry finished with 17 points. Payton, still perhaps the best trash talker in the league, had 14 points and 16 assists. Predrag Drobnjak added 12 points, and Desmond Mason came off the bench to score 10 for the Sonics, who shot 53.8 percent (42 of 78) for the night.

Larry Hughes added a season-high 19 points for the Wizards. However, Jerry Stackhouse struggled, finishing with season-low 13 points on just 6-for-19 shooting from the floor. His worst moment came when he missed a pair of free throws with 2:26 left and the Wizards trailing 91-90.

"You can't ask for a better situation than that with a chance to go up," Stackhouse said. "I can't say anything other than that. It was a tough night at the office. They took us out of what we wanted to do.

"They made tough shots, and Lewis was spectacular. No matter what we threw at him or what we tried to do, he was knocking down shots. He hit them at the start, and he hit them at the end. And they all weren't layups."

Said Lewis: "The basket felt wide open to me. I was feeling my jump shot and had a nice flow going. Everything was feeling good to me tonight. I was not hesitating at all."

Lewis had 18 points by halftime after making seven of eight shots.

Overall, the Wizards shot a respectable 51.2 percent from the floor (42 of 82), numbers that will usually produce a victory in today's NBA.

After getting off to a nice start that saw them make 13 of 22 shots from the field and lead by seven points in the first quarter, the Wizards were unable to defend against Seattle, which made 24 of 36 shots from the field in the second and third quarters. This resulted in the biggest lead of the night for the Sonics, 72-56 with just under nine minutes left in the third.

Collins felt the Wizards let the game get away at the end of the first half, when the Sonics closed with an 8-2 run.

"I thought that little stretch spelled trouble for us," Collins said.

But with just more than seven minutes to play in the game and the Sonics leading 88-79, Washington outscored Seattle 11-3 to pull within 91-90 on a jumper by Jordan with 3:04 left.

However, after Lewis hurt the Wizards through most of the night, Payton finished them off. With just under one minute to play and the Wizards down by 95-93, Payton found Drobnjak in the corner for a baseline jumper.

And after a basket by Jordan, Mason hit Barry with a pass that Barry turned into the game-clincher.

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