SuperSonics 140, Clippers 108
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ Benoit Benjamin scored 22 points, and the Seattle SuperSonics set a franchise record for field-goal accuracy by making 63.5 percent of their shots in a 140-108 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
Benjamin, fined by the NBA earlier in the day for his behavior to the crowd during a loss to the Clippers last week, redeemed himself against his former teammates.
The 7-footer made nine of 11 shots, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots.
The Sonics hit 54 of 85 shots, eclipsing the previous mark of 62.9 percent against the Clippers on Nov. 26, 1985.
Ken Norman scored 27 points and Danny Manning 21 for the Clippers, who played without Charles Smith because of a bruised right thigh.
Seattle led 60-55 in the first minute of the second half, then took control of the game with a 20-10 run for an 80-65 lead.
The Sonics led 94-78 after three quarters and scored the first eight points of the fourth period for a 102-78 lead.
Sonics coach K.C. Jones was assessed two technical fouls and ejected by official Derrick Stafford for arguing a call in the second quarter.
Assistant coach Bob Kloppenburg directed the team the rest of the game.
The Clippers, who were eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race the previous night, had a letdown against the Sonics.
Seattle outscored the Clippers 46-30 in the fourth quarter and scored a season high against Los Angeles.
With the victory, the Sonics moved within one-half game of Golden State in the race for the seventh Western Conference playoff berth.
The Warriors, who did not play Wednesday, have five games remaining, three against teams bound for the playoffs.
The Sonics have six games remaining and five of those are against teams headed for postseason action.
The seventh seed will meet the Midwest Division champ in the first round. The eighth seed will meet the Pacific Division titlist.
One of the beneficiaries of the one-sided victory was Sonics guard Dana Barros. The 5-foot-10 guard, who had played twice in the previous six games, scored 18 points in 16 minutes.
Benjamin outdueled former Sonic Olden Polynice in the middle after being outplayed by him during the loss at Los Angeles last week.
Benjamin outscored Polynice 22-16 and outrebounded him 11-3.
On April 5, Benjamin gave obscene gestures to the crowd before and after the game at the Los Angeles Sports Arena and was fined $1,500 Wednesday by the NBA.
Benjamin apologized to the Los Angeles fans in an pretaped halftime interview.
″I can’t do things like I did so I totally apologize to the little kids and fans,″ he said.
Benjamin drew consistent double-teams from the Clippers and his teammates thrived against the porous Los Angeles defense.
The Sonics made 26 of their first 36 shots in the second half en route to their record-setting shooting performance.
His teammates said that Benjamin is a key to their postseason hopes.
″I hate to put pressure on a guy. If he is a presence inside, that will open up things for the rest of us,″ Eddie Johnson said.
Clippers coach Mike Schuler said he was distressed by his team’s performance.
″Our play was very poor. When things started to go bad, we just caved in,″ Schuler said.
Kloppenburg said the Sonics were motivated by a couple of factors.
″We had been embarrassed by L.A. when we played them down there. So the combination of that plus K.C. getting ejected brought the intensity level up,″ he said.