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Happy Baker becomes Sonics’ big point-maker

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Vin Baker feasted on a trio of Toronto forwards with the same ease that 6-foot-11, 250-pound star has fit into Seattle's lineup.

"I like it here. This team suits my style," said Baker, who scored 35 points on 14-for-20 shooting in the SuperSonics' 109-92 victory over the Raptors on Thursday night in Toronto."I just went to the middle, and my teammates found me the ball. I really feel that if my teammates can get me the ball under the basket, there isn't much the opposition can do."

Baker, acquired from Milwaukee in the offseason a three-way trade that sent Shawn Kemp to Cleveland, proved that point in the first half, scoring 24 points on 10-for-11 shooting as Seattle took a 59-44 lead.

Gary Payton had 19 points and 13 assists for the Sonics (3-1).

"I was just going with the flow," Payton said. "The way they were trapping, I was forced to get the ball to the right people. But tonight it wasn't about passing. It was about making shots."

The Sonics, who shot 54.8 percent from the field, also got a strong all-round effort from Detlef Schrempf, who had 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Aaron Williams added 12 points, and Jerome Kersey had 10.

Damon Stoudamire led the Raptors (1-3) with 22 points, and Marcus Camby had 18 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots.

Toronto's Walt Williams, who had 19 points, hit a 3-pointer with just under nine minutes to play to cut Seattle's lead to seven. But Payton hit a 3-pointer, and Dale Ellis followed with another for a 90-77 lead with 7:49 remaining.

"We didn't have any energy," Raptors coach Darrell Walker said. "We were missing easy shots and we dug ourselves a big hole. You do that against a club with as much talent as Seattle, and you're in for a long game."

Knicks 105, Suns 75

At Phoenix, with guards Charlie Ward, Allan Houston and John Starks patrolling the perimeter, Phoenix found it difficult to get inside against New York.

When they did, they found Patrick Ewing waiting. Ewing played just enough to get the runaway started Thursday night, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds in 26 minutes.

Starks had 19 points, seven assists and three steals. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, but his major contribution was defense in the second quarter, when Jason Kidd of Phoenix went scoreless and New York opened a 61-35 halftime lead.

"They're the type of team that can blow teams out," said Starks, who hit three of four 3-pointers. "But when we're kicking on all cylinders, it's tough for teams to beat us."

Antonio McDyess had 19 points for the Suns, who lost for the first time in three games. Danny Manning had 16.

The Knicks snapped a seven-game losing streak in Phoenix and won for the first time in six tries in the America West Arena. Their next game is tonight against the Lakers in Los Angeles.

"We didn't get complacent, even when we had a big lead," Ewing said. "We came out aggressive and stayed aggressive. It was good to come out and blow them out, especially with a big game tomorrow."

The Knicks beat the Suns in every phase, with 28 assists to 16 for Phoenix, and 52 rebounds to 37 for the Suns. New York countered Phoenix's small lineup with Oakley, Starks, Larry Johnson, Chris Mills and Chris Childs.

"This was the team that we're supposed to have matchup problems with," Allan Houston said. "We're on the road, this is supposed to be a tough crowd, but I think our mental focus tonight was contagious. We had all our guys ready to play, and we would not allow ourselves to be lackadaisical."

Starks, Houston and Ward combined to limit Kidd and Kevin Johnson to 5-for-17 shooting and single-digit scoring.

Bucks 100, 76ers 93

At Milwaukee, the Bucks used their reserves to scratch out another victory over Philadelphia.

Bucks coach Chris Ford put backup forward Jamie Feick at center, and Feick and veteran Armon Gilliam helped the Bucks beat the winless 76ers for the second time in six days.

With the Bucks' regular center, Ervin Johnson, out with back spasms, Feick turned in a creditable performance in the first start of his 44-game NBA career. He grabbed nine rebounds in 30 minutes and had two steals.

Gilliam played 23 minutes, scored 12 points and made all six of his free throws, including four in a row just before Tyrone Hill tied the game at 88 with 3:03 left in the fourth quarter.

"On a night when you're stuck in the mud, we found a way in the fourth period to get the job done," Ford said as his team denied Larry Brown from getting his first victory as Philadelphia's coach. " got a great lift from our bench."

Starters Terrell Brandon (22 points) and Glenn Robinson led the Bucks, who beat Philadelphia for the second time in six days, dropping the Sixers to 0-4.

Milwaukee did it by overcoming horrendous shooting from the foul line, making 26 of 40 free throws. But in the last 38 seconds, they didn't miss as Ray Allen, Robinson and Gilliam each made a pair to help preserve the win.

"We couldn't shoot free throws, but you can't give up in this league," said Brandon, who had eight assists.

Allen Iverson, who had 21 points in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, scored 33 points for Philadelphia. His layup with 6:22 to play gave the Sixers a 85-76 lead, their biggest of the final quarter.

But Philadelphia couldn't hold the lead as Gilliam started the comeback for Milwaukee with short hook shot. Brandon added two layups and a steal before Gilliam made four free throws in a row to close the Bucks to 88-86 with 3:39 left.

The Sixers certainly hurt their chances when forward Jerry Stackhouse picked up his sixth foul with 3:23 left and Philadelphia clinging to an 88-86 lead.