SEATTLE -- The Seattle SuperSonics are the only team still playing that doesn't have a superstar to carry them. But they don't need to be carried when they run.
The star-less Sonics finally quit worrying about what they lacked and played wide-open, full-court basketball, pounding the Phoenix Suns, 120-101, yesterday to even the best-of-seven Western Conference finals at two games apiece.
They don't have a Charles Barkley, a Michael Jordan or a Patrick Ewing, but they did regain that all-for-one, full-speed-ahead mentality that characterized their 55-win regular season.
"We have an All-Star every game, but it's just a different player every night," Seattle coach George Karl said. "That's just the nature of our team. Derrick McKey was our Charles Barkley today. We're a versatile team. Everyone does everything. we don't have to wait for one guy. That can be an advantage."
Although the Sonics also won Game 2, they were more lucky than good that time. This time they played superbly, easily their best in the series, which resumes tomorrow night in Phoenix with Game 5.
"We're so much better when we just play wild and crazy like this, instead of worrying about who we're playing," Karl said. "Our personality is to play aggressively and to play fast. Find the first good shot and take it. When we think too much, it just bogs us down. Until today, we were too hesitant."
Starting forwards Shawn Kemp and McKey scored 20 points each and centerSam Perkins added 19, as they dominated Phoenix inside with a 46-34 edge in rebounds and an 8-3 advantage in blocked shots.
The Sonics, who came into the game shooting just 41 percent against Phoenix, hit 47 of 87 shots (54 percent), taking control at the start of the second half and never letting go.
Barkley led everyone with 27 points, but he played poorly in the second half, and most of his teammates played poorly throughout. He hit just two of seven shots and had four rebounds after halftime.
"Seattle beat us in every way possible today," Phoenix coach Paul Westphal said. "You name it, they did it. Take your pick. They did what they wanted."
Seattle's 120 points equaled its playoff high (120-95 over the Houston Rockets), getting some unusually aggressive play from McKey, who had eight points in the first four minutes of the second half as the Sonics' three-point lead increased to 11. The Sonics charged ahead 82-65 midway through the third period.
The Suns never got closer than nine points again.
"I thought we just played terrible basketball," said Phoenix guard Dan Majerle, who had 16 points. "Mentally, we were not even in the game. We were careless. When you play like that, a team like Seattle is going to destroy you. That's what happened in the second half."