Saturday, March 19, 2005


SuperSonics 98, Magic 90

A few hours before the game, it became news that Vladimir Radmanovic would be four to six weeks with a stress fracture in his right fibula. The Sonic bench would be hurting to begin with. Then it became news a few minutes before gametime that Danny Fortson would be out again with an ankle sprain, and Jerome James would be out with a right quad contusion.

So how do the Sonics win this game? From what I heard (I didn't see the game), the remaining players were able to play some defense, and Coach McMillan threw a 2-3 zone at Orlando that they had no idea what to do with. They held Steve Francis to 19 points on 8-for-20 shooting and Grant Hill to 6-for-15 shooting (12 points). No Orlando player reached 20 points. The weird thing was, the Magic shot over 50% and lost. They only got to the free-throw line 10 times, though, and hit on six of those. That was a big difference.

It wasn't just the zone, though. There's no way Ray Allen was going to complain about not getting enough touches after this game, because he tied his season high, put up 21 shots and went to the line for 12 shots. Rashard Lewis didn't have too good a night, though Ray was on fire. Nick Collison, starting in place of Jerome James (who is five inches taller Collison), had 9 points and 7 boards in his first nine minutes of play. Reggie Evans was his usual boarding self. This was a game where even Robert Swift came off the bench, though. Antonio Daniels was the only regular off the bench, but Ron Murray and Vitaly Potapenko played some productive minutes, with the latter doing all his scoring in the fourth quarter. As for the former, I think I only want him taking midrange jumpers and driving to the basket.

Ray Allen 38 pts/7 reb/4 ast (12-21 FG, 2-7 3pt, 12-12 free throws), Rashard Lewis 13 pts/5 reb/4 ast/3 blk (4-13 FG, 1-7 3pt, 4-6 free throws), Nick Collison 11 pts/10 reb (5-9 FG, 1-2 free throws), Luke Ridnour 7 pts/6 ast (3-9 FG, 1-2 3pt), Reggie Evans 5 pts/8 reb (2-4 FG, 1-2 free throws)

Antonio Daniels 10 pts/2 ast (4-8 FG, 0-2 3pt, 2-2 free throws), Ron Murray 8 pts/5 reb/2 ast (4-11 FG, 0-4 3pt), Vitaly Potapenko 6 pts/7 reb (3-4 FG), Robert Swift 0 pts/0 reb (0-2 FG)

Jerome James Watch
out with a right quad contusion

shot 37-for-81 (45.7%) from the field, shot 4-for-22 (18.2%) from downtown, shot 20-for-24 (83.3%) from the line, outrebounded Orlando 44-35, turned ball over 9 times (forced 11), beat Orlando 15-8 on second-chance points, bench was outscored 35-24 (outrebounded Orlando bench 13-12)

I'm thinking without Radmanovic that we're probably not going to be able to expect 30-35 points a night from the bench for a while, unless Daniels, Vitaly, and Murray go nuts or something. We know that Murray did a great job filling in for Ray Allen last year, and now he's getting the minutes that I'm sure he wants. But kudos to Vitaly and Murray for not bitching about minutes this year, and as of now, thank goodness the Sonics didn't trade these two guys.

The other thing that makes all of this weird is the substitution patterns. One of the best things about Radmanovic was that he was that tall and could nail threes, so people had to bring their big guys out to the perimeter to defend him. When Radmanovic was firing on all cylinders, it also took some of the load off of Allen and Lewis. Radmanovic created matchup problems, and sometimes the Sonics would go with a very tall (for them) lineup of Daniels/Ridnour, Lewis, Radmanovic, Collison, and Fortson. Okay, four forwards. But now, it's Daniels and Murray off the bench, with Vitaly as the first big man off the bench until James or Fortson are back. Let's face it, things are pretty dire because Robert Swift got minutes in this game. Another byproduct of no Radmanovic is that the Sonics were terrible from beyond the arc in this game, though a busted-wrist Radmanovic would have probably shot 1-for-8 from long range himself.

This team has trudged through Fortson being out and/or injured this season, along with injuries to Reggie Evans, Rashard Lewis having knee tendinitis, Ray Allen being sick, etc. Missing Radmanovic for three weeks is quite the amount of adversity, as it would be with losing any sixth man that has been a key part of the offense for the season.

I guess I would have asked Jinkies if he can chew up some minutes in the middle for the Sonics off the bench.

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