Tuesday, February 22, 2005
(final content posted ~9:43p)
The Sonics got behind in the first quarter, and they shot horribly the entire game. From that point in the first quarter, the Sonics always seemed to be a run behind -- they'd make a run and get within one or two points, and the Rockets would reel off a run and get a cushion. This pretty much carried through to the closing minutes of the game.
Rashard Lewis got two quick fouls in the first quarter, but came back to lead the Sonics in scoring, and had some incredibly clutch defensive stops late, including a key strip of Tracy McGrady in the waning minutes that led to a Ray Allen breakaway dunk. The dunk got the Sonics a one-point lead at 85-84.
After nailing a free throw that tied the score at 85, Dikembe Mutombo bricked his second free-throw attempt. Ray Allen scrambled for the rebound, had some control of the ball, and was bumped out of bounds toward the Sonic bench by David Wesley. Ray Allen went to the line and hit both shots, accounting for the final margin.
The Sonics shot crappy, yes, but this...this is a great win. They were behind most of the game, but somehow pulled it out in the end. Their advantage on the glass helped, as did their defense (yes, defense).
It also helped that Yao Ming fouled out with just over a minute to go in the fourth quarter. Tracy McGrady had an okay night, but he didn't get to go nuts, and Rashard Lewis was a big part of that.
With Danny Fortson out, the Sonics needed to do something else with those minutes coming off the bench in the frontcourt. Nick Collison got some of those minutes, and had a couple of layups. Nate McMillan let the broadcasters before the game know that Vitaly Potapenko would get some significant minutes, and he did. He had a decent line of 4 points and 6 boards. It's not easy trying to make up for Fortson, but that helps.
While none of the frontcourt guys could really do much about Yao, Vitaly, James, and Collison had a much easier time with the aged Dikembe Mutombo. Though somewhat unrelated, there was a play in the third quarter (I think) where Vladimir Radmanovic tried to climb Mount Mutombo, and Mutombo got whistled for the foul, thinking he got all ball. While I didn't get too good of a look on the replay, I must say that as a Sonic fan, I was happy to see any and every call that went against Mutombo tonight.
They shot crappy, and they didn't get much flow in their offense, but they were able to win a game whose pace favored the Rockets. It's a good way to start the second half. Though I know this team lost to the Warriors, they do have a patsy tomorrow night in New Orleans.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 29 pts/5 reb/2 ast/2 stl (11-23 FG, 0-6 3pt, 7-8 free throws), Rashard Lewis 23 pts/9 reb/2 stl (7-20 FG, 1-8 3pt, 8-12 free throws), Luke Ridnour 7 pts/4 reb/7 ast (2-10 FG, 1-3 3pt), Reggie Evans 3 pts/11 reb/3 stl
Vladimir Radmanovic 10 pts/4 reb (3-9 FG, 2-6 3pt), Antonio Daniels 7 pts/3 reb/6 ast (3-7 FG), Vitaly Potapenko 4 pts/6 reb (2-6 FG, 18 min), Nick Collison 4 pts/3 reb (2-2 FG, 8 min)
Jerome James Watch
0 pts/5 reb/1 stl/1 blk (0-5 FG, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 18 min)
shot 31-for-85 (36.5%) from the field, shot 4-for-25 (16%) from downtown, shot 21-for-28 (75%) from the line, outrebounded Houston 50-37, bench outscored Houston bench 25-15 (outrebounded them 16-9), only had one shot blocked by Mutombo
Though the Sonics had their clutch defensive plays in the game, they had a great second half defensively when you just look at the linescore. They held the Rockets to 15 points in the third quarter, and 19 in the fourth, which made up for the first half. This was way better than even the first quarter (28 points), but also better than what we saw defensively out of the Sonics in the weeks leading up to the break.
Looking to the boxscore, Luke Ridnour had a terrible shooting night, but was distributing the ball, and his two free throws were key points down the stretch. Radmanovic had another bad shooting night, but when his wrist comes around, his numbers should do the same.
But really, the entire team other than Ray Allen (who went through some cold stretches himself) shot poorly tonight. Then again, it's not surprising in a way when you're facing a Jeff Van Gundy-coached team.
The Sonics couldn't contain Yao very much, but they had better luck against Tracy McGrady. That helped bigtime.
I asked Jinkies if he thinks the Rockets should go back to the uniforms they wore when they won their repeat titles. His reply: "A rash of that crazy size of which you speak should not be treated with over-the-counter ointments. You need to see somebody who can help you, and this is not me!"
Frankly, I'm blown away that I'm still getting fresh replies out of Jinkies. I think I've been asking him these questions for about 25 to 30 games now. This is crazy.