Sunday, March 13, 2005
***NOTE: Jeremy's after-bracket insight and reactions are directly below this post
It started out innocently enough for the Sonics. They scored the first eight points of the game. They opened with an 11-2 run. They had another 7-0 run in the first quarter as well. Vladimir Radmanovic had an authoritative baseline slam with 28 seconds left, his first basket of the game. Yet the Sonics only led 28-25 at the end of the quarter. Rashard Lewis had 11 points in the quarter, and Ray Allen had 9. Reggie Evans had 4 points and 6 boards in the opening quarter. The Sonics hit half of their 24 shots.
Then it got dicey. At the 8:52 mark of the second quarter, they had officially blown their lead as the Knicks tied the game at 30. At the 7:08 mark, the Knicks took the lead for the first time. The turnaround was sparked by some defensive ruckus raised by Jerome Williams of the Knicks, for whom they play a sound effect of a dog barking (junkyard dog). At one point, Antonio Daniels had fed a nice pass down low to Radmanovic, but he couldn't hold on to it, and it went off his right hand (the one with the bum wrist, not sure if that had anything to do with the turnover). McMillan even figured a slight change was needed, and Ron Murray got some minutes at the end of the half. The Sonics trailed 50-45 at half.
In the first half, New York had gone to the line 21 times (nailing 19), and the Sonics had only hit 5 of 6. That was a big reason why the Knicks were up 5 despite shooting only 37% from the floor. Seattle had shot 19-for-43 (44%) and a horrid 2-for-13 (15%) from beyond the arc.
Individually, Lewis had 15 at half, Allen was stuck at 9 (he was scoreless in the 2nd quarter), and Evans had 6 and 10. Daniels and Fortson had chimed in with four points apiece.
At one point in the third quarter, the Sonics missed 8 of 9 shots. The quarter was pretty listless on both sides, then Danny Fortson came off the bench for Seattle and drew a charge right away, which seemed to pick things up. After the Sonics turned the ball over for the seventh time in the quarter, Fortson set a high screen to free up Ray Allen for a jumper with 41 ticks left to get the Sonics within five, 65-60 after three quarters. It was a nicely run play which was a harbinger for what the Sonics would do in the fourth quarter.
Keeping the Knicks from pulling away in the game was the fact that they were shooting 35% from the floor; however, they were still shooting 20-for-23 from the line. The Sonics were shooting 40% and were 4-for-18 (22%) from three.
In the fourth quarter, the difference in the Sonic offense from the middle two quarters was like night and day. There was flow, there was ball movement, there were picks set, and Antonio Daniels was getting credited for some assists, which the Sonics haven't been too good at. The Sonics shot horribly from beyond the arc the entire game, but they got three huge threes in the final quarter. Rashard Lewis tied the game with a three at the 8:46 mark at 69-69. Before more big threes were hit, a running Allen one-handed shot got the Sonics a lead at 4:44, then Fortson fouled out and got T'd, though Coach McMillan didn't believe Fortson's objections were anywhere near worthy of a technical. The Knicks went on a 5-0 run from that point and took a one-point lead. They had that one-point lead and the ball with a chance to pile onto the lead, but Malik Rose got called for an illegal screen, and Lewis hit a huge three right afterward (2:42 mark) to get the Sonics the lead they wouldn't relinquish. Not long after that, Lewis was isolated down low and worked off about 15 seconds of the shot clock before kicking out to Radmanovic wide open for a three to solidify the Sonics' lead with 1:24 to go.
The Sonics had played pretty solid defense most of the game, and they were just waiting for the offense to come around. Luckily, they were a little more proactive in that department in the fourth quarter, since they doubled up the Knicks 30-15 in the final quarter, with the 15-4 run to end the game helping bigtime. This was the Sonics' first win at Madison Square Garden since November 24, 1996, and it snapped a 7-game home win streak for the Knicks.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Rashard Lewis 23 pts/6 reb/3 ast (10-19 FG, 3-7 3pt, 42 min), Ray Allen 19 pts (7-20 FG, 2-8 3pt, 3-3 free throws, 39 min), Reggie Evans 8 pts/16 reb (2-3 FG, 4-6 free throws, 28 min), Luke Ridnour 6 pts/3 reb/3 ast (2-5 FG, 24 min)
Antonio Daniels 11 pts/2 reb/7 ast (4-8 FG, 0-2 3pt, 3-4 free throws), Nick Collison 8 pts/6 reb (3-4 FG, 2-3 free throws, 17 min), Danny Fortson 6 pts/2 reb (2-2 FG, 2-2 free throws, fouled out, 18 min), Vladimir Radmanovic 5 pts/3 reb/2 stl (2-9 FG, 1-4 3pt, 27 min), Ron Murray 0 pts/0 reb (0-2 FG, 4 min)
Jerome James Watch
4 pts/3 reb/3 blk (1-1 FG, 2-2 free throws, 3 turnovers, 14 min)
shot 33-for-73 (45.2%) from the field, shot 7-for-23 (30.4%) from beyond the arc, shot 17-for-22 (77.3%) from the line (Knicks got eight more line attempts), outboarded New York 42-39, bench outscored New York bench 30-21 (boards were 13-13), turned ball over 17 times
Ray Allen didn't shoot too well, and was actually held scoreless in the second quarter. Reggie Evans is a rebounding machine. Luke Ridnour was the least best of the two Sonic point guards in this one, but I'll get to the bench later. Jerome James wasn't a scoring force, but in the limited minutes, the four points combined with the three blocks has to account for something.
The bench provided meaningful production for the first time in a while. They scored 30, which is a lot closer to their average than what we've been seeing lately. Radmanovic might get all the headlines for anyone off the bench because he did hit a very key three-ball, but he only scored five. His three-ball in the fourth quarter was only his second basket, with the first one being the dunk at the end of the first quarter. Antonio Daniels scored 11, but was a big factor in the offensive awakening in the fourth quarter, and he ended up with seven assists for the game. Nick Collison was also doing some dirty work down low, and he ended up with a solid line as well. Another big part of the offense waking up in the fourth quarter was the fact that Danny Fortson was setting some solid screens. I remembered this because there was a play in the third quarter where Ray Allen was trying to move off a Radmanovic screen, but Radmanovic just sort of ran past his guy, not really impeding the defender. I thought after Fortson fouled out that the Sonics might be dead in the water, but luckily they didn't forget how to move the ball after that.
Somewhat reminiscent of the Detroit game at the Key, and the game at Houston, the Sonics won in a game where the pace, and definitely the pace of scoring, didn't favor them. I know the Knicks definitely aren't the Pistons on defense, but this one wasn't played to the Sonics' pace.
The two main gripes I have about the boxscore are with the Sonics not getting to the free-throw line enough and turning the ball over way too much. It would behoove them very much to reverse both of those unsightly attributes.
I guess I would have asked Jinkies whether he knew that the Madison Square Garden event floor was on the 5th floor of the building that houses it.