Monday, March 28, 2005
Well, Ray Allen said in the locker room after the game that the Sonics didn't deserve to win this one. They didn't. Their interior defense was just brutal, and the Wizards had their way in the paint for much of the game. Jerome James was getting worked by Etan Thomas down low in a good portion of his 17 minutes of play, so that didn't help. The broadcast crew pointed out that Rashard Lewis wasn't getting the usual elevation on his shots, and his final numbers indicated as much. The cameras also showed him using the off-floor stationary bike to keep the knee from going stiff.
The shoddy interior defense led to the Wizards scoring 56 points in the first half, which put a damper on solid offensive half of 50 points by the Sonics, though they'd only scored 19 in the second quarter. The sick thing was that the Sonics held the Wizards to 39 points in the second half and they still didn't win. Scoring 19 points in the second quarter and 17 in the third quarter will do that to you.
All in all, I thought through all of the first three quarters that the Sonics wouldn't win this game. They were shooting poorly, they were defending horribly, and these small, quick, and athletic teams are the ones that give the Sonics the most trouble (ref. Boston), though oddly, the Wizards suck otherwise. In the fourth quarter, the Sonics quickly got back in it, got out of it, then got back in it again. It was hellaciously weird, and reminded me of many false-hope comebacks in which the Mariners used to partake.
In the first quarter, the Sonics seemed they might shake the Wizards early, going on a 10-0 run to get a 12-4 lead thanks to consecutive threes by Ray Allen. The Wizards fired back right away with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to two points. The rest of the quarter was pretty close, and the Sonics' largest lead was a short-lived five points, cut quickly by a second-chance Gilbert Arenas bucket, one of many second-chance points by the Wizards in the half (they ended up with 18 for the game). Nick Collison also came off the bench late in the quarter and scored three straight Sonic baskets. The Sonics led 31-29 after one quarter.
The Sonics jumped out to a 7-2 run spurred by Antonio Daniels and Ron Murray to start the second quarter and bump their lead to seven points at 38-31 with 9:56 to go in the half. The run was capped by Murray free throws, though he hit a runner on the possession before that at the 10:29 mark. The Sonics' next basket would come on a Ray Allen layup with 5:01 to go in the half. To recap, that's a span of 5:28, and the Sonics missed six straight shots. As you might guess, the Bullets turned that into a run, which was one of the 11-0 variety and it probably should have been bigger. A Lewis three in the final minutes tied the score at 48 (the Sonics had to inbound the ball with 2 seconds left on the shot clock) before Steve Blake (yes, Steve Blake) nailed a three. Then Luke Ridnour and Lewis had passes intercepted on the next two possessions, and Larry Hughes cashed in twice, once with a layup and once with a three. Eight points for the Wizards in about 44 seconds. The Wizards led 56-50 at the half.
Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes combined for 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 11 assists in the first half. The Wizards dished out 17 assists in the first half, which is more than the Sonics have had lately in entire games. The Wizards shot 52.5% in the first half (hint: lots of easy layups on defensive breakdowns, not to mention shooting the crap out of the ball), and the Sonics shot 45%.
Then the Wizards scored the first six points of the second half, capping off a 14-2 run carrying over from the first half. The first Sonic points of the second half happened after Arenas was T'd up and Ray Allen hit the free throw at the 7:07 mark. The first Sonic basket from the floor in the second half was at the 6:37 mark when Rashard Lewis hit a three to cut the deficit to 10. The Sonics missed six shots in their drought, and also turned the ball over twice and had a shot clock violation (Jerome James all three times). The Sonics put together an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to five at 66-61, but the Wizards were able to widen the lead before the end of the quarter, which ended at 75-67.
The Sonics woke up in the fourth quarter. Carrying over from the third quarter, 13 straight points for the Sonics were scored by Antonio Daniels and Damien Wilkins, and their output helped the Sonics tie the score at 77 with 8:41 to go (12-2 run). A Lewis midrange pop with 7:05 left got the Sonics their first lead since early in the second quarter. Though Wilkins' energy was great for the Sonic offense, he was whistled very quickly for four fouls, helping the Sonics get over the limit quickly, which happened with 7:26 left to start the Wizards' parade to the free-throw line. The Wizards weren't doing too well from the line, but then they started hitting their free throws. The Sonics were down 82-80 with the ball and 6:13 left. Ray Allen was stripped of the ball beyond the perimeter by Larry Hughes, who went for the easy layup. Allen pulled a Luke Ridnour and fouled Hughes for the three-point play. On the next trip down, Antonio Daniels had a pass jumped by Hughes, who dunked this time. That was five quick points by Hughes as part of an 11-1 Washington run. Amazingly, the Sonics were able to get it to within one at 93-92 with 1:01 left (12-4 run), helped by six Ray Allen free throws and five Collison points.
With the Sonics down 93-92 with a minute to go, Collison was whistled for a foul, and Kwame Brown went to the line. Brown was 0-for-4 from the line in the game to that point, so of course, he hit both free throws to extend the lead to three. Damien Wilkins put back a Ray Allen miss on the next trip down the floor to get the game back to 95-94. To make things even more interesting, Arenas charged Daniels on the other end of the floor. That set up the final Sonic possession with 16.7 seconds left and the Sonics down 95-94. What happened? Ray Allen held the ball beyond the perimeter for a few seconds, then drove into the key, where he was stripped. The ball was tipped and it found Antonio Daniels about four feet beyond the three-point line on the right side. The shot was short. Nick Collison streaked under the basket anticipating a tip opportunity, but it probably would have come after the buzzer.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 27 pts/8 reb/2 ast/2 stl (7-20 FG, 2-5 3pt, 11-12 free throws, 43 min), Rashard Lewis 16 pts/3 reb/2 ast (5-16 FG, 3-9 3pt, 3-4 free throws, 37 min), Luke Ridnour 7 pts/2 reb/4 ast (3-8 FG, 25 min), Reggie Evans 0 pts/8 reb/2 ast (0-2 FG, 26 min)
Antonio Daniels 15 pts/2 ast (5-9 FG, 0-2 3pt, 5-6 free throws, 31 min), Nick Collison 14 pts/8 reb/2 ast/2 blk (5-8 FG, 4-5 free throws, 29 min), Damien Wilkins 9 pts/5 reb/2 stl (3-8 FG, 0-4 3pt, 3-4 free throws, 13 min), Ron Murray 4 pts (1-2 FG, 2-2 free throws, 13 min), Vitaly Potapenko 0 pts/1 reb (0-1 FG, 5 min)
Jerome James Watch
2 pts/3 reb/1 blk (1-3 FG, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls, 17 min)
shot 30-for-77 (39%) from the field, shot 6-for-21 (28.6%) from downtown, shot 28-for-33 (84.8%) from the line, were outrebounded 40-39 (only 9 offensive boards), turned the ball over 15 times, were beat 25-11 on the fast break, bench outscored Washington bench 42-19 (outrebounded them 15-8)
With this, the Sonics' five-game winning streak without Vladimir Radmanovic has come to an end. What I've noticed about the Sonics lately is that a lot of these games are going down to the wire, and I think I pointed this out before, either in a daily post or in the last game post. Earlier in the season, it seemed as though the Sonics usually had their games decided with at least a few minutes left, with maybe a couple of exceptions. In games they lost, it was usually because they went dead cold for prolonged stretches and played horrible defense, and the opposing team drubbed them. Ironically, the team went cold for prolonged stretches and played horrible defense in this game, but somehow were able to hang close.
As for the boxscore numbers, I'd bash Ray Allen for his shooting percentage from the floor until I saw that he went to the line 12 times, and I like it when he's going to the line. I guess my disappointment would be that the other starters weren't getting to the line that much, namely Luke Ridnour. You can shoot free throws pretty well, Luke, now drive to the basket and cash in every once in a while. I'm not saying he has to go Daniels on us, but a drive every now and then would be nice. Rashard Lewis, as I'd mentioned, was impeded a bit by the knee tendinitis. Nick Collison played great in the presence of his grandmother Ruth, who saw him play pro ball for the first time tonight at the Key. Damien Wilkins provided some spark off the bench, helping the Sonics make a key run, though he was truly Fortsonian in the way he was piling up fouls out there, though less people were falling to the floor in a heap.
I would have asked Jinkies if the cat food on those Sheba commercials actually tastes good because man, it doesn't look good and the flavors all sound disgusting.