SEATTLE -- About halfway to the basket, Kevin Durant decided his skinny frame wasn't about to shy away from taking on a 7-footer at the rim.
The result: 27 games into his NBA career, Seattle's 19-year-old rookie now has a poster-worthy dunk sure to be replayed and highlighted often.
Durant's baseline slam over 7-foot Toronto center Rasho Nesterovic was certainly impressive enough. But the dunk was only part of Durant's 27-point performance, as the SuperSonics held off the Raptors 123-115 on Friday.
When Durant caught the touch pass from Earl Watson and took one dribble toward the basket, he didn't plan on dunking over Nesterovic. But when the burly center went to challenge Durant, the rookie showed he can power the big guys on the inside.
"I've just got to start doing that more, trying to finish when guys attack," Durant said. "That was one of the turning points of the game."
The Sonics rebounded from a lackluster, uninspired effort two nights earlier against New Orleans, thanks largely to Durant, who made 11 of 18 shots, and 23 points from Wally Szczerbiak.
Durant scored 14 in the third quarter, including Seattle's first 11 of the second half. His dunk and subsequent free-throw pulled Seattle within 70-67, but it was Durant's no-look pass to Chris Wilcox for a fastbreak dunk minutes later that ignited a 21-9 Sonics' run to close the third quarter.
Seattle eventually built an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter, and it needed all of the advantage to hold off a late flurry by the Raptors.
Chris Bosh led Toronto with 26 points, 16 coming in the first half, but he had just two points in the fourth quarter and made just 1 of 6 attempts. The Raptors dropped their second straight game on a seven-game Western Conference swing, but made the Sonics sweat in the final seconds.
Seattle took its biggest lead at 116-98 on Durant's fourth 3-pointer with 4:09 left. Toronto made a furious rally, outscoring Seattle 13-0 over the next 2 1/2 minutes, behind 3-pointers from Carlos Delfino, Jason Kapono and Anthony Parker, and two baskets by Jose Calderon.
Szczerbiak's jumper with 1:25 left stemmed the surge, but Calderon scored again. Calderon finally missed, but a Seattle turnover gave Toronto the ball with 36 seconds left, down 118-113.
Delfino hit a wide open 3 with 31 seconds left, but officials correctly ruled his left foot was on the sideline when he caught the ball.
"We needed that call, no question," Szczerbiak said.
After Damien Wilkins made one of two free throws, Bosh dropped an inbound pass that Wilkins grabbed. He hit both free throws this time to seal the victory.
"We battled back, but then you have to try and play perfect basketball and you make one mistake and it deflates you," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said.
Wilcox shot 7 of 7 and finished with 16 points and Nick Collison had 10 points and 10 rebounds, as seven Sonics scored in double figures. Watson, Jeff Green and Luke Ridnour all added 10 points.
Seattle took control with its run late in the third quarter, but it was the start of the quarter where Durant kept the Sonics close.
Durant added a deep 3 as part of Seattle's run, but it was Collison, Green and Szczerbiak doing most of the work. Collison assisted on three straight baskets and Szczerbiak capped the quarter with his third 3-pointer to give Seattle a 92-83 lead.
The lead grew to 18 on Durant's 3-pointer, before Toronto's final rally.
"We have to play better defense. I think we just had a couple of breakdowns and their confidence went up a little bit," Bosh said.
The Raptors matched their season-high with 13 3-pointers. Parker scored 18 and Kapono scored 16 off the bench. Delfino and Calderon both finished with 15.
Calderon had seven assists in the first quarter and finished with 16, matching his season-high. ... Toronto led 62-56 at halftime. The 62 points was Toronto's most in the first half this season. ... Seattle has three days off before playing Christmas night in Portland.
|Seattle (8-19) «||33||23||36||31||123|
|TOR:C. Bosh 26 Pts
TOR:C. Bosh 13 Reb
TOR:J. Calderon 16 Ast
|SEA:K. Durant 27 Pts
SEA:N. Collison 10 Reb
SEA:E. Watson 7 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|C. Bosh, PF||44||9-21||8-10||13||2||3||26|
|J. Calderon, PG||37||7-15||0-0||7||16||3||15|
|A. Parker, SG||35||7-12||0-0||3||4||1||18|
|R. Nesterovic, C||13||0-2||0-0||3||2||3||0|
|J. Moon, SG||11||2-2||0-0||2||0||2||4|
|C. Delfino, SG||29||6-10||0-0||2||3||5||15|
|J. Kapono, SF||27||6-10||0-0||2||0||1||16|
|K. Humphries, PF||20||4-9||2-2||3||1||1||10|
|A. Bargnani, PF||14||2-7||0-0||2||1||2||4|
|J. Dixon, SG||11||3-5||0-0||2||3||1||7|
|D. Martin, PG||Did Not Play|
|M. Baston, SF||Did Not Play|
|T. Ford, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. Graham, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Garbajosa, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|K. Durant, SF||38||11-18||1-1||2||3||1||27|
|E. Watson, PG||25||4-9||0-0||1||7||0||10|
|D. Wilkins, SG||25||3-8||3-4||3||5||1||9|
|K. Thomas, PF||24||1-4||2-2||8||2||0||4|
|C. Wilcox, PF||19||7-7||2-3||3||1||5||16|
|N. Collison, C||33||5-8||0-0||10||4||2||10|
|W. Szczerbiak, SF||25||8-14||3-3||1||2||1||23|
|L. Ridnour, PG||23||3-9||4-4||2||6||0||10|
|J. Green, SF||18||3-4||4-4||4||2||4||10|
|M. Gelabale, SF||8||2-3||0-0||1||1||0||4|
|J. Petro, C||1||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|R. Swift, C||Did Not Play|
|D. West, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Sene, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|