Saturday, April 02, 2005


SuperSonics 89, Trail Blazers 87

Well, I guess there's some good news and some bad news about this one. With their 50th win of the season tonight, the Sonics gained a game on the Spurs. The bad news? Denver was the team that beat the Spurs, so the Sonics have to wait a bit longer to formally clinch the Northwest Division title.

Okay, so the real bad news is that Rashard Lewis is out definitely with a deep bone bruise (and tendon bruise) in his right foot, caused by a fall in the game against the Wizards. He won't be traveling with the Sonics to the Bay Area and Sacto on the upcoming trip, and will be undergoing a CT scan and a bone scan in the near future to see if anything else is wrong.

With that comes some semi-good news -- Danny Fortson came back tonight, and Vladimir Radmanovic will be able to work out in a pool soon.

Also, the Sonics beat Portland on Kevin Duckworth's 41st birthday. Thanks to NorthWest Sports Tonight for that one.

The Sonics had the lead for all of 27 seconds of the first quarter, and that was after the first basket of the game (Ray Allen). The Sonics hung close for most of the quarter, though a 5-0 Portland run opened got the Sonics down by seven about halfway through the quarter. Nick Collison had a couple of baskets (one on an inbound with four seconds left on the shot clock, the other with multiple pumpfakes) in the final three minutes to whittle the deficit down to two by the end of the quarter. Darius Miles warmed up the offense for Portland before Damon Stoudamire warmed up a bit himself, at one point nailing a long jumper and a three-ball on consecutive possessions. The Blazers led 28-26 after one quarter of play. Reggie Evans had six rebounds in the quarter, so he was up to his usual stuff.

Seattle was never able to grab the lead in the second quarter, though the first basket of the quarter (Nick Collison) did tie the game. Then Sebastian Telfair started torching Luke Ridnour. Though Ridnour ended up with a decent line tonight, Telfair caught fire to the tune of four layups in the quarter, abusing Ridnour on more than one occasion. Telfair scored 14 in the second, though he only scored four for the remainder of the game. Telfair's three-pointer capped a 12-2 Portland run which put them up 48-36 with 2:20 remaining in the half. The Sonics responded with a 10-2 run of their own before halftime, keyed by three-pointers by Luke Ridnour and Ron Murray. In just under two and a half minutes, the Sonics cut a 12-point deficit down to 4 (50-46). Not bad.

How did the Sonics react to open the second half? Well, holding Portland to four baskets from the floor sure helped. The Sonics held the Blazers to 4-for-12 shooting in the third quarter, with the Blazers scoring seven of their points from the charity stripe. The Sonics scored the first 10 points of the half (three Portland turnovers helped) to jump out to a six-point lead at 56-50. Damon Stoudamire nailed a free throw after Ray Allen took umbrage to Joel Przybilla elbowing him on a screen. Then Damien Wilkins nailed a three, making it a 13-1 Sonic run since the half, and a 23-3 Sonic run carrying over from the first half. In the latter half of the quarter, the Sonics missed five straight shots and Portland went on a 6-0 run, mostly with free throws, to get to within two points at 63-61 with just over three minutes left in the quarter. The Sonics eventually widened the lead a bit, getting it back to six points before taking a five-point lead into the fourth quarter, 70-65. Portland was held to 15 points in the quarter.

A Ron Murray pop and a Collison basket down low staked the Sonics out to a 9-point lead, and they had a 9-point lead again after Antonio Daniels hit a jumper with 7:48 to play (78-69). Then Richie Frahm sandwiched a Damien Wilkins dunk with a couple of threes, and Travis Outlaw hit a nifty layup to cut the lead to three with 5:33 left (80-77). Shareef Abdur-Rahim hit a jumper to answer a Daniels basket to cut the lead to three again with 5:01 to go. Damien Wilkins grabbed an offensive board off a Ray Allen miss, and the Sonics reset and killed some time off the shot clock. Then Allen waited a little too long to put up a shot, which airballed into Danny Fortson's hands, but the shot-clock buzzer had sounded.

A golden chance to build on the lead slipped away. Worse yet, Shareef hit a short shot on the other end to cut the lead to one with just under four minutes to go. The Sonics then missed three straight shots and fouled twice. One of the fouls was an offensive foul Danny Fortson for throwing Joel Przybilla to the side, though I think the refs missed Przybilla throwing Fortson to the floor to get rebounding position on the possession before that. Jerome James came in for Fortson, and then Collison fouled Shareef, who hit two free throws to get Portland a one-point lead, 83-82 with 2:21 to go. Not good. On the other end, Daniels initiated some contact with Telfair on his shot and got to go to the line. He nailed the first, but the second one rimmed just short...but Jerome James grabbed it and stuffed it, putting the Sonics up 85-83 with just over two minutes to go. Then Shareef appaered again, nailing another shot in the paint to tie it. The game was tied at 85, and the Sonics had the ball with under two minutes to play. With the shot clock running down, Ray Allen dribbled behind the arc on the left side and hit a three with Damon Stoudamire draped on him to get the Sonics the lead they would never relinquish.

Not that we knew it'd end up that way at the time. Shareef got to the line again, nailing both his free throws inside the final minute to get the Blazers back within one. The Sonics had the one-point lead and the ball with under half a minute to play, and Daniels drove to the rack and was shoved, lying face-down next to a photographer at the base of the basket. After spending about 20 seconds on the floor and having the trainer see if everything was okay, Daniels headed to the line. He hit the first, but not the second. Thus, the Blazers could tie the game with a basket, or win with a three-ball or a three-point play down low. As expected, the ball was in Shareef's hands, and Collison guarded him as well as he could. Luckily the shot was short. Collison grabbed the board, flipped it out toward another Sonic, and that was it.

As you might expect if you read the stuff I wrote for the fourth quarter, Shareef Abdur-Rahim did some damage, and he scored the final 10 Portland points of the game. He scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Another Portland/Seattle game in the books. Portland didn't look like a 24-47 team out there tonight, but that's what a rivalry will do to you. Throw out them record books when these here two teams hit the hardwood.

Ray Allen 19 pts/3 reb/4 ast (8-24 FG, 3-8 3pt, 42 min), Damien Wilkins 17 pts/4 reb/2 ast (7-13 FG, 3-6 3pt, 35 min), Luke Ridnour 7 pts/5 reb/9 ast (3-8 FG, 1-2 3pt, 25 min), Reggie Evans 5 pts/13 reb/3 stl (2-5 FG, 1-3 free throws)

Nick Collison 14 pts/8 reb (7-13 FG, 29 min), Antonio Daniels 12 pts/2 reb/5 ast (3-6 FG, 6-8 free throws, 27 min), Ron Murray 5 pts (2-7 FG, 1-4 3pt, 16 min), Danny Fortson 2 pts/6 reb (1-4 FG, 16 min)

Jerome James Watch
8 pts/3 reb/1 stl (4-6 FG, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls, 21 min)

shot 37-for-86 (43%) from the field, shot 8-for-21 (38.1%) from downtown, shot 7-for-12 (58.3%) from the line, beat Portland 42-36 in the paint, beat Portland 19-12 on second-chance points, outrebounded Portland 45-35 (17 Sonic offensive boards), turned ball over 15 times, bench outscored Portland's 33-18 (outrebounded them 17-7)

Ugh, look at Ray Allen's shooting numbers. Yikes. Luckily Ron Murray was the only other Sonic that had an off night shootingwise. Even still, Ray Allen did hit the game-breaking three in the final 90 seconds of the game. Though he shot 33% tonight, the one three-ball was very clutch.

Like I said, Ridnour was getting torched by Telfair in the second quarter. Kevin Calabro mentioned during the broadcast that a guy like Telfair is exactly the kind of player that Ridnour doesn't want to face this time of year -- Telfair has had half a year of rest from before Portland decided to usher in the youth movement, so he has the rested legs as opposed to Ridnour, who has put in big minutes all season long. Still, 9 assists out of Ridnour is a good night. Seven points and 5 boards make for good crooked numbers in the boxscore too.

Nick Collison and Danny Fortson were on the floor simultaneously for a good portion of the fourth quarter. Collison has come on as a fourth-quarter player lately, and has been a scrapping, gutty player in the low post, going up for rebounds, tip-ins, etc. If you've got Fortson doing the same thing, then it's all the better. Better yet, they can clean up after each other's misses if needed. I really like a fourth-quarter frontcourt with those two guys. As I've clarified before, Fortson can hit free throws. Fortson himself had a decent return back, not just on the boards, but Antonio Daniels sure likes to run off Danny's screens and get easy shots.

My big problem with the boxscore? The Sonics only got to the line 12 times, and Antonio Daniels was really the only one getting there. I'm sure Fortson's screens might have something to do with that as well. Still, the starting lineup was a combined 1-for-4 from the line. Actually, that accounts for all non-Daniels free throws. Evans was 1-for-3 and Wilkins missed his only attempt. I guess I just hate it when I know that Ray Allen and Luke Ridnour are great free-throw shooters, but they didn't get to the line once in this game. At least Allen had the benefit of the big shot, but man, I'd be ticked about that 8-for-24 knowing that he didn't get to the line once.

Hooray for solid nights again out of Wilkins (who started) and Collison. Wilkins hit some very timely three-pointers and brought his usual energy. Collison is Collison. Hard hat, hard mask. Well, I have no idea if the mask is hard. It's fun to see how well-groomed that guy's moves in the post are. Fun stuff.

They have Fortson back, and hopefully the Sonics will be able to benefit from those solid screens. Unfortunately, it might be a while before Rashard Lewis is able to reap said benefits again. Dammit, it's hard enough without Radmanovic. Why must the Sonics be dealt this hand, oh why?!

I would have asked Jinkies if he's ever sprayed his essence on the Space Needle before heading into KeyArena to watch the Sonics.

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