Saturday, April 30, 2005
[actually posted ~11:57a]
It's a new series. The Kings shot the crap out of the ball and were able to get through to the basket for layups for most of the game. But the Sonics doomed themselves with a poor start.
Jerome James scored the first two baskets of the game, and everything seemed okay until Sacramento followed up with an 11-2 run, putting the Kings up 11-6 just under four minutes into the game. The Sonics had another spell later in the quarter, going nearly four and a half minutes without a field goal. That translated into a 12-1 King run (including the most embarrassing play of the game in the above photo), smattered with six Sonic turnovers. The Kings had a 15-point lead of 31-16 inside the final minute of the quarter before Nick Collison tipped in a missed Ray Allen three. The Sonics were down 31-19 after one quarter.
Ray Allen led the way with five points in the first quarter. Jerome James and Reggie Evans had four apiece. Evans led with four rebounds. Luke Ridnour led in getting a shiner and getting plowed on Brad Miller picks. The Sonics were shooting 8-for-21 (38%) from the field, and the Kings shot 13-for-23 (56%), mostly thanks to getting all the way to the basket for layups.
The most damning stat of the first quarter, and of the game -- 9 Sonic turnovers in the first quarter alone. The Kings scored 12 points off the turnovers. Five of the turnovers were steals. The Sonics were never able to overcome this.
It got worse before it got better. The Kings scored the first five points of the second quarter. The Sonics later answered with the same number of points before the Kings reeled off a 12-2 run to take a 21-point lead, their largest of the game. The Sonics left Brad Miller wide open on the perimeter, and he sank jumpers on four straight Sacramento possessions (three jumpers). The run was broken by a Vladimir Radmanovic three, and Ray Allen scored nine points to spark a 14-1 Sonic run, returning the game to near-respectability as the Sonics trailed 49-41 about three minutes to go in the half. Then Cuttino Mobley answered with a three right after Sacramento had called a 20. The Sonics trailed 54-45 at halftime. A nine-point deficit was definitely better than 21.
The Sonics shot a little better from the field, ending the half at 17-for-41 (41%). The Kings were still torrid at 23-for-43 (53%). The Sonics turned the ball over three more times in the second quarter, making it 12 for the half. The Sonics led 20-13 on rebounds.
Allen led with 16 points at half. James had 10 and Ridnour had 6. James led with 5 rebounds, and Evans had 4.
I'll make it simple for you. Both teams pretty much traded baskets until the last part of the fourth quarter, when the Kings were able to maintain a double-digit lead. Of course, the Sonics started the half down nine points, and trading baskets didn't work to their advantage. Scoring 36 points in a quarter (third) is good, but the euphoria is killed a bit when you give up 38 in the same quarter. At least there was a nice play where Jerome James was double-teamed and passed to a wide-open Rashard Lewis under the basket for a dunk. Ridnour was later plowed by a Miller pick for at least the second time. Two Danny Fortson free throws got the Sonics within seven (86-79) with a minute and a half to play, but they got no closer. Sacramento went on a 6-2 run to end the quarter and led 92-81 after three quarters.
Allen led after three quarters with 23 points. James had 18 and Ridnour had 13. Lewis and Radmanovic had 6 apiece. James and Evans led with 6 boards apiece. Ridnour had amassed 5 assists.
The basket-trading phase ended when the Kings used five free throws and a Bibby layup for a 7-0 run to put themselves up by double-digits for good. For most of the second half, their lead had hovered around nine, but no less than seven.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 33 pts/5 reb/5 ast (10-21 FG, 3-9 3pt, 10-10 free throws, 41 min), Luke Ridnour 15 pts/5 reb/5 ast (6-14 FG, 1-3 3pt, 2-2 free throws, 37 min), Rashard Lewis 9 pts/2 reb (2-10 FG, 0-2 3pt, 5-6 free throws, 40 min), Reggie Evans 4 pts/5 reb (2-2 FG, 16 min)
Vladimir Radmanovic 8 pts/5 reb (3-11 FG, 2-8 3pt, 31 min), Nick Collison 7 pts/4 reb (2-6 FG, 3-4 free throws, 16 min), Antonio Daniels 3 pts/2 reb/3 ast (0-3 FG, 3-4 free throws, 15 min), Danny Fortson 3 pts (3-4 free throws, 8 min)
Jerome James Watch
22 pts/9 reb/1 ast/1 blk (9-14 FG, 4-4 free throws, 2 turnovers, 6 fouls, 36 min)
shot 34-for-81 (42%) from the floor, shot 6-for-23 (26.1%) from downtown, shot 30-for-34 (88.2%) from the line, outrebounded Kings 38-30 (15-9 on offensive glass), turned ball over 16 times, were beaten 40-34 in paint, bench outscored King bench 21-19 (outrebounded them 12-6)
First off, we know that Reggie Evans has gotten into Brad Miller's head in the past, though I think I heard on the broadcast that Evans had some sort of stomach problem, limiting him to just 16 minutes. Thus, Miller was able to be the main picksetter, and Mike Bibby was able to run Luke Ridnour through Miller's picks all night long.
Speaking of picks, the Sonics sure like to bring James out to the perimeter for a high screen if nothing is materializing in the offense. Not that it shouldn't be obvious or anything. Fortson used to do the same thing when he got minutes.
It would sure help the Sonics if Radmanovic and/or finally went nuts. They can't have both of those guys having off-nights from the floor for much longer.
Of course, one could argue that if the Sonics just cut their turnovers in half in that first quarter, they could have won this game. They probably could have. You can't let Kenny Thomas go off for 22 points though. Seriously, what the hell was that? He was blowing by people and getting to the basket. It's one thing if Bibby does it, but it's quite another if Kenny Thomas does it.
I'm hoping Coach McMillan and the assistants can draw something up to take a 3-1 series lead back to Seattle, because I don't know if I can live with a 2-2 tie going into Game 5. From this game alone, they need to seal off the paint and not leave Brad Miller open on the perimeter. It'd help to limit Cuttino Mobley as well.
And for goodness' sake, don't turn the ball over nine times in the first quarter. Good gracious.
Kevin Pelton at SuperSonics.com notified us the other day that Jinkies is up. I asked what the Sonics would need to do to take a 3-1 series lead back to Seattle. His response: "That is funny. I am liking you."
It's good to have Jinkies back. Thanks to Kevin for notifying us of Jinkies' existence. Hopefully it brings back some of that early-season mojo.