SEATTLE -- Yet another first for Seattle rookie Kevin Durant on Friday night: chilling on the bench the entire fourth quarter.
"That was something new to me. I never sat a whole quarter out before," Durant said with a smile.
No worries. The SuperSonics could afford to give their rookie star a fourth-quarter breather thanks to the effort from their reserves.
Durant scored 17 points in three quarters, and thanks to the likes of reserves Damien Wilkins, Mickael Gelabale and Luke Ridnour, the Sonics never trailed in a 99-87 win over the ragged Portland Trail Blazers.
A night after staging a second-half rally and nearly shocking the Blazers in Portland, the Sonics left no question, scoring the first eight points, leading by double figures six minutes in and never facing much of a challenge. Seattle got its usual performance from Durant, but he was held on the bench in the fourth quarter by coach P.J. Carlesimo to get some extra rest and because the Sonics were getting contributions from unlikely sources.
Notably, it was the trio of Ridnour, Gelabale and Wilkins stepping up for a team still adjusting to the loss of veterans Kurt Thomas and Wally Szczerbiak, both dealt before the trade deadline. The three combined for 36 points and scored 13 of Seattle's 15 points during a run early in the fourth quarter that turned back the one charge Portland made.
"Our bench really gave us a big lift," Carlesimo said. "I think we were able to stay a little fresher because the guys off the bench gave us such good production."
Portland never seemed into this one, a possible hangover from Thursday night when the Blazers beat Seattle 92-88 but went the final six minutes without a field goal.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored eight of Portland's first 10 points and finished with 23, but got little help otherwise. Travis Outlaw scored 18 of his 26 in the second half and Brandon Roy had 11 of his 19 in the fourth quarter, but those efforts were mostly for naught as Portland only briefly got within single-digits in the second half. Even with Outlaw's points, the Blazers bench was outscored by Seattle 41-32.
The Blazers have lost six of seven.
"I don't think we quite got the message of this type of game," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "It's almost like a playoff game where you just beat a team 24 hours ago and mentally you have to be just as hungry to come out and play with a sense of urgency as they do and that didn't happen. They came out with the aggressiveness."
Perhaps most disappointed in the Blazers' effort was Roy, playing in his home town for the first time this year. Roy never got going until the fourth quarter, missing 13 of his 19 shots. McMillan got so uninterested in his team's performance during the third quarter he spent a few moments chatting courtside with former Seattle teammate Steve Scheffler.
"We came out just thinking they were going to cruise, and they came out and were real upset about the game last night," Roy said. "We played as if we could turn it on and off. We're not good enough to try to do that yet."
It was mostly Seattle's reserves that broke the game open in the second quarter, using a 15-6 run at the start of the period to take a 44-25 lead on Gelabale's two free throws, part of eight surprising points during the run from the seldom-used swingman.
The lead remained double-figures until the opening moments of the fourth when Outlaw capped a 13-3 spurt to get the Blazers to within nine points, at 71-62. But Jeff Green bullied the smaller Steve Blake for a basket, Gelabale added a short jumper over Joel Pryzbilla and a few jumpers from Ridnour pushed the Sonics' lead comfortably back to 18 with seven minutes left.
Gelabale finished with 12 points, Ridnour scored 11 and Wilkins had 13 for Seattle.
An MRI on the injured right knee of Seattle C Robert Swift revealed a torn meniscus. Swift sprained his right knee in Thursday's loss in Portland. Before learning the results, Carlesimo didn't sound optimistic. "I don't like to hear people say they heard something pop," he said. ... Newly acquired C Francisco Elson had 3 points in 11 minutes for Seattle.