Wednesday, March 02, 2005
(final content posted ~8:19p)
Here's what I have for tonight's game. Postgame thoughts are below the in-game stuff, or at least for games that I actually see. It's not hard to tell which games I actually watched and which ones I didn't. Especially if I tell you.
The Sonics were hot for the second straight game in the first quarter, shooting 12-for-18. They nailed all four three-pointers they took. Ray Allen shot 5-for-7 and had 12 first-quarter points. In a battle of two good rebounding teams, Cleveland found themselves ahead in that department by a margin of 9-7. Five of Cleveland's nine rebounds were on offense.
After one quarter -- Seattle 28, Cleveland 19
Fortson hit four free throws within the first 1:15, 13-2 run. Nick Collison had a nice rejection of an Eric Snow just inside 9 minutes. Cleveland over the limit at 8:06. Radmanovic hit threes on two straight possessions the latter giving the Sonics a 39-27 lead. Ridnour had a nice drive for a foul and one about halfway through (SEA 42-28). The Cavalieres are playing quite sloppy at this point, having seven turnovers at the 5:37 mark. Ridnour had a nice double-pump reverse inside the final minute.
After one half -- Seattle 54, Cleveland 45
This game might be a little less close if LeBron James didn't start warming up from beyond the arc. Trouble is, the Sonics' game plan was to not let him inside and make him settle for perimeter jumpers, if anything. Toward the latter half of the second quarter, he started hitting those jumpers.
Still, other than the 16 first-half points from Ray Allen, the Sonics' scoring was fairly balanced, and enough to put up a solid half of 54 points. Vladimir Radmanovic scored 11 off the bench, and nailed 3 of 5 threes. Rashard Lewis didn't shoot too well, going 2-for-7, and ending up with 8. Luke Ridnour had 7, and Danny Fortson had 4 points and 5 boards in his 6 minutes before getting his second foul.
Allen packed with 9:36 through traffic SEA 58-50. Allen wide open for three about a minute later SEA 61-53. 7:37 creates space, gets another jumper for Allen SEA 63-56. LeBron hitting more threes to start quarter, Sonics not hitting shots other than Ray Allen. 5:23 tie at 65-65. 3:48 Radman three SEA 70-67. 3:02 Ridnour drive and foul, hits both SEA 72-67. 2:23 Sonics on 7-0 run after Collison free throws. 0:25.8 Fortson offensive board, fouled, hits both SEA 76-69. Radmanovic beats the buzzer with hits toe on the line, SEA 78-69.
After three quarters -- Seattle 78, Cleveland 69
What a weird little quarter. The Sonics have the same nine-point lead they had at the end of one quarter, but the Cavaliers had gotten quite hot at the start of the quarter, LeBron was hitting threes, the entire team was shooting a little better, and they managed to tie the score. Then the Sonics ripped off a 7-0 run, and Vladimir Radmanovic's punctuation ballfake and shot to beat the buzzer gave the Sonics a nine-point lead to end the quarter.
11:44 Radmanovic three SEA 81-69, 14-2 run. 10:28 Fortson and Traylor go down, earthquake. 10:08 Daniels pulls up transition SEA 85-72. 9:36 Fortson plows Z, banks one SEA 87-73. 9:22 Z offensive foul (Fortson). 6:25 Lewis offensive board, backs up, shoots three, fouled by LeBron, SEA 94-81. 5:12 Allen sideways baseline SEA 96-81. 4:27 Lewis draws charge on Welsch. 1:41 Allen free throws put Sonics over 100, SEA 101-84. 0:38.7 Collison rebounds missed dunk, lays in SEA 103-84.
In a way, this game was a lot like the one the night before. The Sonics started out great, opened up a double-digit lead in the first half, eventually lost the lead in the third quarter, and went on a final big run to pull away and put the game on ice. As a matter of fact, I'm amazed that a game that was tied on more than one occasion in the third quarter ended up looking like a 17-point blowout.
The notable off-game today went to Reggie Evans, but he only got 9 minutes. Needless to say, the other main minutes for the non-Rashard Lewis bigs went to Jerome James, Nick Collison, and Danny Fortson. Fortson had a very nice game, I thought, the nicest since he got back from his fairly long absence. James didn't have the great night he had last night, but he definitely wasn't inept. Collison had a solid night, even when he missed the dunk toward the end of the game. He rebounded the missed dunk and laid it in the second time. The frontcourt overall did a pretty nice job on Zydrunas Ilgauskas, as he wasn't able to post numbers quite up there with what he'd been getting as of late. LeBron did scored 32, but the frontcourt was doing their job on him too; LeBron was forced outside for a bunch of threes, but he did hit quite a few of them.
Like I said, I'm left with the impression that the game was close for a good deal of the second half, when in fact it was only close for a portion of the third quarter when Cleveland tied it. Then came the 7-0 Sonic run after the game was tied at 67-67. With Radmanovic's three to start the fourth quarter, that run ballooned to a 14-2 run. At that point, it was all over but the shouting.
How about that defense? They held the Cavaliers to 86 points. In the five games since the break, they've held all six of their opponents to under 100 points. Yes, they even held the Bucks under 100 in that Sunday blowout.
Tonight, the Sonics put the Cavaliers away mainly by holding them to 19 in the first quarter and 17 in the fourth quarter. The Sonics gave up 26 and 24 in the middle quarters, which is okay to mediocre, but the catch is that the Sonics also scored 26 in the second and 24 in the third. The Cavaliers warmed up, sure -- they did manage to tie the game in the second quarter, after all -- but the Sonics never really cooled.
So, what am I going to say after I peek at the boxscore? I'll probably say that the bench was great, Radmanovic warmed up (he was great), and Luke Ridnour may have shook off some shooting woes. He's fighting off the plantar fasciitis, you know. Sometimes I forget that when I'm angry about his recent bricks.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 31 pts/5 reb/3 ast (11-22 FG, 3-5 3pt, 6-6 free throws), Rashard Lewis 20 pts/4 reb/3 ast (7-15 FG, 2-3 3pt, 4-6 free throws), Luke Ridnour 9 pts/2 reb/5 ast (3-5 FG, 3-7 free throws), Reggie Evans 2 pts/2 reb (1-2 FG, 20 min)
Vladimir Radmanovic 19 pts/7 reb/2 ast/2 stl (7-12 FG, 5-8 3pt, 33 min), Danny Fortson 8 pts/7 reb (1-2 FG, 6-6 free throws, 16 min), Nick Collison 6 pts/6 reb (2-5 FG, 2-2 free throws), Antonio Daniels 4 pts/2 ast (2-5 FG, 17 min), Robert Swift 0 pts/0 reb (2 min)
Jerome James Watch
4 pts/2 reb/1 stl (2-4 FG, 4 fouls, 17 min)
shot 36-for-72 (50%) from the field, shot 10-for-17 (58.8%) from downtown, shot 21-for-29 (72.4%) from the line, outrebounded Cleveland 36-33, forced 16 Cleveland turnovers, bench outscored Cleveland bench 37-8 (outrebounded them 21-12)
Did I mention the Sonics were able to keep Zydrunas Ilgauskas from wreaking havoc on the offensive boards? That's been a big part of his game this season, and the Sonics were able to limit him to 2 offensive boards.
Luke Ridnour did shoot 3-for-5 tonight, though he'd been having some horrible shooting nights the last few games. Of course, he has been trying to ward off the plantar fasciitis as well. As for further evidence that he's still not all the way through...Luke Ridnour doesn't miss 4 out of 7 free throws. That doesn't happen, except for tonight.
Still along the injury front, Vladimir Radmanovic said to Brad Adam after the game that his wrist still bothers him, but he just tries not to think about it. It looked like a good wrist tonight. His three-pointers at times don't just seem like threes, they seem like psychological blows to the other team, especially if they're really timely.
In a weird note, I mentioned that LeBron James had shot a bunch of threes. He went 5-for-7 from downtown. How did the Sonics' frontcourt do against him? LeBron was 6-for-13 from inside the arc. That's 12 of his 32 points coming from inside the arc.
The Sonic bench obliterated the Cleveland bench, and even if you go the Stan Van Gundy route and consider Vladimir Radmanovic as getting starter-type minutes, the Sonic bench still walked all over the Cavalier bench.
You know, I always fear these back-to-back sets, but the Sonics always seem to do so freakin' well in them.
Looking at their record, this team is 20-8 on the road and 20-8 at home.
Folks, this team is at 40 wins. It's the second of March. There's still a month and three weeks' worth of games (26 in all) to go.
I asked Jinkies if he's ever made his own mistake by the lake. Correction -- I would have asked him that, but their little Flash thingie doesn't appear to be loading as of the moment. If it loads again tonight, I'll make sure to post the answer here. It might be because the Sonics re-did their site.