Saturday, February 12, 2005
Man, what a huge win for the Sonics, and it's true on many fronts. It was the tail end of a back-to-back. It was on the road. It was against Phoenix, the second-best team recordwise in the conference. It also avenged the home loss to Phoenix on ESPN earlier in the season; the game where they coughed up that late 7-point lead.
I saw most of the first quarter and listened to the rest of the first quarter, but was not around for the other three quarters. From that limited experience, I can say that the Sonics started out something like 1-for-5 from the field -- they really didn't start out great. The odd thing is that they really ramped it up and ended the quarter having shot an insane 14-for-23 (61%). They took a 33-29 lead into the second quarter.
I guess I'll just draw my other conclusions after the Peek.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Rashard Lewis 23 pts/8 reb/3 ast (8-19 FG, 4-7 3pt, 3-4 free throws), Ray Allen 21 pts/4 reb/3 ast (8-24 FG, 3-8 3pt, 2-2 free throws), Luke Ridnour 12 pts/2 reb/5 ast (5-10 FG, 1-3 3pt), Reggie Evans 10 pts/11 reb (4-6 FG, 2-3 free throws)
Antonio Daniels 20 pts/3 reb/3 ast (7-12 FG, 1-4 3pt, 5-7 free throws), Vladimir Radmanovic 13 pts/6 reb/3 stl (4-6 FG, 3-5 3pt, 2-4 free throws), Nick Collison 2 pts/4 reb (1-5 FG, 14 min, fouled out), Ron Murray (0-2 FG, 6 min)
Jerome James Watch
12 pts/7 reb/2 blk (6-7 FG, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 21 min)
shot 43-for-91 (47.3%) from the field, shot 12-for-28 (42.9%) from downtown, shot 15-for-22 (68.2%) from the line, outrebounded Phoenix 45-39, had 23 second-chance points (Suns had 9), bench outscored Phoenix bench 35-7 (outrebounded them 13-2)
What I don't show is the number of minutes on the Suns' starters, which for the record is 41 (Johnson), 40 (Nash), 40 (Richardson), 39 (Stoudemire), 38 (Marion). The Suns can't possibly keep going on like this, and I think they know that, which is why they got Walter McCarty on board, who did see some time in this game. Still, Mike D'Antoni is going to have to find more minutes for Jimmy Jackson, McCarty, and whatever rest of the bench they have if he plans on the magnificent starting five having any energy past about late next month. They are going to get dog-tired if they keep running out there in the high 30s for minutes every night.
Of course, anything of what Phoenix does in the playoffs might be moot since they're definitely not a halfcourt team. Anyone that remembers the Kemp/Payton-era Sonics remembers mission-in-transition basketball and also remembers dreading playoff basketball because the Sonics were nowhere near as good when they had to execute in the halfcourt sets.
Thank goodness this year's Sonics can play in the halfcourt, because I think it suits them really well come playoff time. Phoenix...not so much.
Oh, the Sonics' numbers. Ray Allen had a crappy shooting night, but 14 of his 21 were in the fourth quarter. Rashard Lewis had another solid night. Luke Ridnour had a decent night.
Antonio Daniels had his second monster night in a row. Twenty in this game after having 18 big ones the night before. Great stuff. Vladimir Radmanovic had a much better night in this game than the night before, though he only shot six times from the floor. Still, he cashed in for 13, but had a nice line with 6 boards and 3 steals. He also chipped in a token assist and block.
Of course, one of the first questions that comes to mind is where Fortson's minutes went, seeing as to how he's suspended and all. Vitaly didn't come off the bench, so they didn't go to him. Collison only played 14 minutes and used all his fouls.
It appears that Jerome James got the bulk of Fortson's minutes, and he made them some quite productive minutes. Really, rightfully so for Jerome, who was nationally praised for saving Fortson's flung chair from hitting someone. His 12 points tied a season best, and his 7 boards was a season best tonight. I was watching that first quarter, and I saw Jerome sitting there at the top of the key. When I saw him spy that open lane, then drive and pack it, holy crap. I was thinking about celebrating or something.
I can't let Reggie Evans' double-double go unnoticed. It was a great night for the Sonics' starters in the frontcourt in general. Usually it's a great night for the Sonics' frontcourt when it's Lewis, Evans, and Radmanovic or Fortson off the bench. Tonight, Jerome James was productive. It's nice to see. Of course, my moment of Jerome James enjoyment is at the old Peja Drobnjak site in one of the old ads. James comes up to Drobnjak wearing a monster costume, and eventually James takes off the mask to reveal his identity. Drobnjak says, "put that back on, Jerome. You're scaring me."
I'd also be remiss to not say that the Sonics had seven guys score in double figures. Nicely done.
But what a great win by the Sonics. I saw this Sacramento/Phoenix back-to-back on the schedule last month and I was afraid of it. Of course, that partially had to do with the type of basketball I was seeing the Sonics play in January, which wasn't very good. Now, they've won five straight, and these last two were great wins.
I asked Jinkies what his favorite thing to do in Phoenix is. His response: "I am very tired now. I have chased a mouse the size of a cake for all night. Please write back when I am rested."