With his son in his arms and former college teammate by his side as he left the visitor's locker room, Sonics guard Ray Allen found a way to laugh about a disappointing night at KeyArena.
Seattle returned from a five-game trip to play Philadelphia, which featured Kevin Ollie, a former Sonic and Connecticut player. Ollie spent Wednesday draped on Allen like a wet raincoat, preventing the Sonics all-star from making an impact.
Meanwhile, Ollie's 76ers teammates dominated the paint and Allen Iverson scored 28 points in a 96-90 win over the Sonics.
The loss snaps the Sonics' season-best three-game winning streak and ends the Sixers' three-game skid.
"We took ourselves out of the game," Allen said after the game. "Offensively we just made the wrong play 90 percent of the night. We stopped ourselves."
Members of the Sixers staff teased Allen that Ollie had him "in his pocket." The guards played two seasons together in Connecticut and reunited as pros in Milwaukee and Seattle.
But Allen wasn't alone in smothering coverage.
Teammate Rashard Lewis was hacked and fouled the entire night, yet to the Sonics, it seemed the officials' whistles worked only in favor of Iverson, who scored 14 of his points off free throws.
"It's been like that all season," said Lewis, who was 9 for 10 from the line, finishing with 25 points and 15 rebounds. "When you've got the Seattle Sonics on your chest, you're not getting very many calls. When Iverson went to the paint, we barely touched him with our fingernails and they called it and put him on the line."
The Sonics (4-5) can't pin the loss on foul disparity, however. Coach Bob Hill described his team as overanxious, although unenthused looked more like it to open the game.
Once trailing by 15, Seattle had a chance to at least pull three points behind with less than two minutes to play, but Lewis missed a three-point attempt. He was in theme with the night as the team was 5 for 21 on three-pointers.
"We just played bad," Hill said. "In the beginning I thought we were in a hurry. It was like we were trying to throw a knockout punch for the entire first half. We settled for too many threes and didn't get to the foul line."
Trailing 92-87, the Sonics appeared in position to come back after Damien Wilkins made a jump shot and Luke Ridnour sank a runner. But when Allen stepped to the line for two free throws, he missed the first attempt with 27.6 seconds remaining and Lewis later had a turnover.
"Losing three games in a row, everybody gets uptight and rightfully so," said Iverson, whose team continues its three-game West Coast road swing in Phoenix on Friday. "I was telling guys at our last practice at home that winning solves everything. When you're struggling and get a win, you get that swagger back. That's the way we feel now."
The Sixers easily regained their swagger by punking the Sonics inside, outscoring them 48-28 in the paint.
Sonics center Johan Petro started despite arriving 40 minutes before the game due to the closure of the 520 bridge. Petro played just 16 minutes, with Hill going small much of the game with forward Chris Wilcox primarily at center.
Hill's normal choice of Nick Collison wasn't much of an option, 0 for 6 from the field through three quarters and benched in the fourth.
"I hate to be critical of Johan because he's 20 years old and he's probably in a tough position starting," Hill said. "Their interior passing in the first half was really good. We were poor inside, there's no question.
"We've gotten so spoiled [with Collison] because he's been so good for a long time. It was like he was in mud. We ran a play after a timeout and he was wide open and he just fumbled it out of bounds. He had a really bad game."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org