As general manager, Rick Sund is chiefly responsible for the plan to play the season with seven pending free agents, and he has no qualms that the team decided to forgo a contract...

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As general manager, Rick Sund is chiefly responsible for the plan to play the season with seven pending free agents, and he has no qualms that the team decided to forgo a contract for him until after the season.

“I like short-term contracts for players, so why should I feel any different for myself?” Sund said. “For half of my career, I’ve been without a contract. When I was with Dallas, the guy said, ‘Hey, Rick. Let’s just do a handshake deal.’ And I said fine.

“Probably if I were 29 or 30, I would probably be a little bit more concerned about security. But it’s cool. It’s OK with me.”

Seattle’s unexpected success hasn’t altered the arrangement Sund made with CEO Wally Walker before the season. However, if the Sonics plan to retain Sund, they likely will resign him before the season ends because of time constraints regarding the trade deadline.

If the Sonics don’t lock up Sund soon, they’ll probably find themselves in competition for his services with several teams.

Player of the game: Rashard Lewis stole the show from Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant. The Sonics forward scored a season-high 37 points on 13-for-22 shooting. He also had seven rebounds.

Play of the game: On the Sonics’ first possession, Reggie Evans’ hook shot rolled off the rim, but Jerome James flashed into the lane and flushed in the putback while everyone else stood flat-footed.

Turning point: The Sonics used a 12-3 run to close out the first quarter and take a 32-23 lead. They never trailed again.

Key matchup: Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant didn’t disappoint the sell-out crowd that came to watch their explosive rivalry. Bryant finished with 35 points and Allen had 26.

Key statistic: The Sonics converted 12 of 27 three-pointers, while the Lakers were 7 for 26 from behind the line.

Up next: Phoenix Suns, 7:30 p.m. Friday at KeyArena.

Lewis’ big stand

The Olympic basketball selection committee never called Rashard Lewis and seemingly hardly considered the Sonics forward who this season is making the strongest All-Star bid of his career.

“I was a little bit upset — but not really upset at them and more disappointed in myself that I didn’t do enough to be on the Olympic team. And it made me want to step my game up a little more,” Lewis said. “I don’t necessarily blame nobody. I try to look at myself and see what I can do.”

Last night, Lewis was paired against Olympian Lamar Odom. On Friday, he’ll face Phoenix forward Shawn Marion, who also competed in the Athens Games.

Lewis abused Odom for 22 first-half points and knows that another good performance against Marion will strengthen his All-Star campaign.

Before Lewis scored 37 last night, six Western Conference forwards had higher scoring averages than Lewis’ 21 points per game, and only one of them was a small forward. Lewis ranked sixth behind Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph and Carmelo Anthony.

Lewis was ahead of Peja Stojakovic, Carlos Boozer and Marion.

“I want to make my first All-Star team. But those type of awards are usually given to guys on winning teams, so that’s where my focus is,” Lewis said. “If we keep on winning and doing the right things, then hopefully somebody will notice what I’m doing.”

All-Star balloting ends Jan. 23 for the Feb. 20 game in Denver.


Ronald Murray made his home debut last night after missing the previous 19 games because of a strained left quadriceps. He scored two points in 12 minutes. Vitaly Potapenko played one minute in his first game of the season after being sidelined with a broken hand.

• The Sonics activated G Ibrahim Kutluay off the injured list and placed G Mateen Cleaves (strained left shoulder) on the IL.

• Before last night’s game, Ray Allen was third in the league with 852 minutes played. Lewis was fifth with 831. The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant was second with 859.