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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Defending Champs Sputter, Magic Win


HOUSTON -- Gary Payton and Detlef Schrempf scored 28 points apiece as the Seattle SuperSonics rallied from a 16-point first-quarter deficit for a 115-112 victory over the Houston Rockets, pushing the two-time defending NBA champions to the brink of playoff elimination.

The SuperSonics, leading the series 3-0, can close out the Western Conference semifinal Sunday in Houston.

"Three wins feels good, but it's not over and it doesn't feel that good," Payton said after Friday's win. "It'll feel a lot better when we get number four."

Shawn Kemp added 21 points and 18 rebounds for Seattle, which has won 12 consecutive games against Houston.

Seattle, which failed to advance out of the first round of the playoffs the past two seasons, is one victory away from advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 1993.

Clyde Drexler scored 28 points and Kenny Smith added 22 of his 27 in the first half for Houston, which has won its last eight playoff games when facing elimination.

The Rockets, the only team to rally from a 3-1 deficit in playoff history, will now try to become the first team to rally from a 3-0 hole.

"We're just going to have to go out and do it," said Drexler. "No one else has done it before."

The SuperSonics fell behind 11-2 at the start of the game and 26-10 with 4:31 remaining in the opening quarter but closed the deficit to 66-62 at halftime.

"We knew the storm was coming early, we called timeout, told ourselves to calm down," said Kemp. "We knew down two games, they'd come out shooting for the stars."

Houston took its final lead of the game on a layup by Robert Horry that made it 95-93 with 9:32 to play. The Sonics then went on an 8-2 burst.

"Yeah, I thought we had them and even in the fourth quarter when we were up by one," said Smith, who was 8-for-15 from the field and dished out 11 assists. "They just made the big offensive plays."

After Houston cut the deficit to 104-103 with 2:44 left, Kemp and Sam Perkins hit two free throws each around a hook shot by Schrempf, pushing Seattle's lead to 110-103 with 1:23 remaining. Houston countered with a 9-3 burst, capped by a 26-footer by Elie to pull the Rockets within 113-112 with 13.9 seconds to play.

Payton hit two free throws to make it 115-112 with 10.2 seconds to go. Elie launched a desperation three-pointer from nearly the same spot of the long bomb he made earlier, but it bounced off the rim.

Payton had eight assists for Seattle and Perkins added 17 points off the bench for the Sonics. Kemp's 18 rebounds were two shy of his playoff career high.

Orlando 120, Hawks 94. In Orlando, O'Neal, who set a franchise record in Game 1 with 41 points, continued to pound the smaller frontline of the Hawks, scoring 25 in the first half for the second straight game.

"We just played good team basketball," O'Neal said. "I still think we can play better."

Dennis Scott, whose five points made him the only starter to fail to reach double figures in the series opener, scored eight of his 17 points in a 21-7 run that gave the Magic a 36-19 lead after one quarter.

"Everybody's just stepping up and making big contributions right now and that's what you want this time of year," said Orlando coach Brian Hill.

Orlando guard Penny Hardaway finished with 15 points and seven assists, leaving the game early because of a strained hamstring.

Mookie Blaylock led the Hawks with 26 points and Christian Laettner added 20 point for Atlanta.

"We've just got to go out and play the game," said Blaylock. "They're not as great on the road as they are at home. We beat them at home before, so we know what to do."

Spurs 88, Jazz 77. David Robinson had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and San Antonio used a late 15-3 run to beat the Utah Jazz and even their best-of-seven series at one game apiece.

Thursday's was the lowest playoff point total ever for the Jazz.

The Jazz used a 15-4 run to cut the Spurs' lead to 73-71 on a jumper by Karl Malone with 3:13 left, but Robinson's three-point play sparked a 15-3 run that put San Antonio up 88-74.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)