The game's first 46 minutes were just an opening act for Gary Payton's show-stopping performance.

Payton scored seven straight points and forced an important turnover in the final 1 minute 57 seconds as the Seattle SuperSonics held off host Milwaukee for a 104-96 win, their seventh straight.

"He's having one of the most amazing years I've ever seen," Seattle Coach Paul Westphal said of Payton. "Whatever a team needs, he'll provide it."

Former Milwaukee star Vin Baker led the Sonics with 31 points, but he faded in the second half. Payton added 22 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists, but the star point guard only came to life when the Bucks battled back to tie the game at 92.

"They made it real hairy there at the end, but it gave Gary a chance to show off a little bit," Westphal said. "What a clutch exhibition by Gary. It was neat to see him just say, 'Okay, we're going to win this game.' "

Baker carried the Sonics through the first half with 26 points, but Payton made all the big plays late to seal Seattle's sixth straight road win.

* HORNETS 109, 76ERS 100: Derrick Coleman and Eddie Jones each scored 23 points as host Charlotte rallied in the third quarter.

The Hornets won their third straight since losing seven in a row, and stopped Philadelphia's winning streak at four.

"The keys were going inside, getting to the line and playing defense," Charlotte's Anthony Mason said. "We got away from that in the fourth quarter. When we have a team down, we have to be able to put them to sleep."

* NETS 122, PISTONS 120: Stephon Marbury had 34 points and 15 assists and Jamie Feick grabbed a career-high 25 rebounds as host New Jersey blew a 17-point lead before beating Detroit. The Nets ended a three-game losing streak.

"You can't spot a team like New Jersey 14 points at halftime and expect to win," Detroit's Grant Hill (23 points) said. "If we stole the game, we would not have deserved to have won."

* ROCKETS 122, NUGGETS 115: Shandon Anderson had 26 points and 13 rebounds as host Houston won its season-high fifth straight. Rookie Steve Francis added 22 points and seven assists. Denver's Antonio McDyess had a season-high 40 points. The Nuggets lost their fifth straight.

"We're getting confidence about what we're doing," Rockets Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "The guys know when to get the ball on the court and what seams to attack. We've been competitive all year but we couldn't close out the close ones. I think we learned from those games and now we're getting the payoff."

* KINGS 111, MAGIC 103: Vlade Divac had 17 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks as host Sacramento won its seventh straight. The Kings played without leading scorer and rebounder Chris Webber, who is day-to-day with a strained neck.

* JAZZ 94, GRIZZLIES 89: Karl Malone scored 18 of his 32 points in the third quarter as visiting Utah improved to 17-0 all-time against Vancouver.

CAPTION: Rashard Lewis is sandwiched by Bucks' Ray Allen, left, Darvin Ham during Sonics' 104-96 victory. Seattle's Gary Payton had 22 points, 10 rebounds.