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Sunday, November 30, 2003 - Page updated at 12:27 A.M.
By Percy Allen
For nearly 2½ hours, Rashard Lewis could put the death of his brother out of mind and focus on basketball.
After last night's game, the Sonics forward said the thoughts of the past three days returned and made him sad. He has spoken with friends, teammates and coach Nate McMillan, each of whom offered advice.
Ultimately, Lewis said, he'll just have to live with his grief and move on.
"Some things happen in life and you never know what can happen so you've got to take advantage of every day in life that you're breathing," he said. "Cherish your family because you never know what can happen."
The life lessons were reinforced this week when Lewis received the call from Houston that his brother died.
A part of him wanted to immediately return to Houston to console his family and another part told him to remain with the Sonics.
"My main thing before I even left was I was so worried about the team," he said. "We've been struggling lately. We've been losing games, especially with Ray (Allen) out and me being the main go-to guy.
"It was kind of hard for me to leave and go back, but it was something I had to do because it's a family member, a close family member."
Lewis returned to the court last night and it looked like he never left. He scored a team-high 27 points on 9-for-18 shooting and collected nine rebounds.
The Rocket were unable to stop his fallaway jumpers along the baseline or his lean-back three-pointers.
Player of the game: Rookie Luke Ridnour made the big plays in the second half. He finished with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and three assists.
Play of the game: Late in the second quarter, Antonio Daniels evaded Houston's Eric Piatkowski with a hesitation dribble and dribbled into the right side of the lane where he powered in a dunk over 7-foot-5 center Yao Ming despite being fouled.
Key matchup: The Sonics weren't overpowered by Yao (19 points, nine rebounds). The trio of Jerome James, Calvin Booth and Vitaly Potapenko totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Key statistic: Calvin Booth blocked five shots and Seattle had 12.
Next: New York, 7 p.m. Wednesday at KeyArena.
Promising change, McMillan delivered and altered the Sonics' starting lineup last night for the first time this season.
After the Sonics' 17-point defeat in Utah, their second straight blowout loss, McMillan benched guard Ronald Murray and center Calvin Booth in favor of reserves Antonio Daniels and Jerome James.
"I'm not putting it on certain individuals," McMillan said before last night's game. "I could have changed four of the guys in my starting lineup if I wanted to. It wasn't one or two guys. We had four guys in that lineup (Friday) night that were awful. It's not one guy."
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