Saturday, April 09, 2005
[intended to be posted at ~3am, but Blogger was very very down.]
This is getting bad. The Sonics are hardly even watchable in the state that they're in right now. After a recent game, Jerome James said it best, that without Rashard Lewis, the Sonics have turned into the Lakers, with other teams able to key on Ray Allen and just screw up the whole game.
Of course, the Lakers in this game were able to get Caron Butler heavily involved. I'm guessing it helped immensely that the Sonics were only losing about 42 points per game of production with the absences of Rashard Lewis, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Antonio Daniels.
When it comes down to it, I'd like to congratulate Kobe Bryant on dropping 42 points on a Sonic team missing three of its top scorers. Way to go, nice job. Good luck in the playoffs. Oh, wait...I meant, have fun watching them from your freakin' couch.
The game threatened to get out of hand in the first quarter, as the Lakers used a 13-3 run to get a 22-13 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the quarter. Amazingly, the Sonics drained three 3-pointers in a town (Ridnour/Allen/Wilkins), though the baskets were sandwiched with a Chucky Atkins three and a Bryant short basket. Nick Collison and Ray Allen stuck jumpers before the end of the quarter to bring the Sonics back to within one at 27-26, and maybe the Sonics might have been up to the challenge tonight. Maybe they'd found their groove.
Ron Murray scored the first basket of the second quarter to give the Sonics a 30-29 lead. Collison cleaned up a Ridnour miss to offset a couple of Devean George free throws. Ridnour hit a three on the next trip down the floor to get the Soncis a four-point lead at 33-29 with 9:12 left in the first half. Collison cleaned up another Ridnour miss to put the lead out to four again, this time at 35-31 with 8:40 to go in the half. What happened next? A 15-0 Laker run. Ballgame. The Sonics never led again. They missed seven straight shots and turned the ball over three times (Ridnour twice) in the game-breaking Laker run. The Sonics answered with a little 5-0 mini-run to get within six, but it was over. From that point, the Lakers went on a 10-2 run to end the half, which was punctuated by Bryant nailing a three to beat the buzzer and make it 56-42.
How did the Lakers get ahead? The most notable first-half numbers were that the Lakers had 17 assists to the Sonics' 8, and that the Sonics had turned the ball over 8 times, as opposed to the Lakers' three. Oh yeah, the Sonics were also missing Rashard Lewis, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Antonio Daniels. The Lakers were shooting 21-for-49 (42%) from the field, and the Sonics were shooting 16-for-39 (41%).
From that point, none of the second half really matters. A Caron Butler layup with 8:23 to go in the third quarter put the Lakers up by 20 for the first time (62-42). The Sonics also missed their first five shots from the floor in the second half, and even Damien Wilkins missed two free throws in the same stretch. The Lakers scored the first six points of the second half, carrying the run to 16-2 from the first half.
After that, the teams pretty much flirted with a 20-point differential. I'd hate to have been in KeyArena for this game. What an all-out stinker.
Also, who's the genius that decided to make the Sonics play Dallas and Houston back-to-back TWICE in the final seven games? That's just brutal. I know the schedulemakers didn't see the Sonics being as good as they would be, but damn...
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 30 pts/4 reb/3 ast/3 stl (12-21 FG, 5-13 3pt, 42 min), Luke Ridnour 12 pts/5 reb/5 ast (5 turnovers, 3-10 FG, 2-6 3pt, 4-4 free throws, 39 min), Damien Wilkins 12 pts/5 reb/3 ast (4-16 FG, 1-5 3pt, 3-5 free throws, 37 min), Reggie Evans 3 pts/11 reb (1-2 FG, 1-4 free throws, 26 min)
Nick Collison 16 pts/11 reb (6-10 FG, 4-4 free throws, 32 min), Ron Murray 12 pts/7 ast (3-11 FG, 0-2 4pt, 6-8 free throws, 33 min), Danny Fortson 3 pts/3 reb (3-4 free throws, 14 min), Vitaly Potapenko 2 pts/2 reb (1-1 FG, 4 min), Mateen Cleaves 0 pts/0 reb (0-1 FG, 3 min)
Jerome James Watch
4 pts/0 reb/1 blk (2 turnovers, 1-3 FG, 2-2 free throws, 10 min...left with an ankle sprain)
shot 31-for-75 (41.3%) from the field, shot 8-for-26 (30.8%) from downtown, shot 24-for-32 (75%) from the line, outrebounded Lakers 42-39 (14 offensive, surrendered 13 offensive), had 19 assists (Lakers had 31), turned ball over 12 times, were beaten 44-32 in the paint, beat LA 18-11 on second chances, bench outscored Laker bench 33-16 (outrebounded them 17-12)
Once again, the curse of the double-double continues after a nice game by Nick Collison. Of course, when Ridnour, Wilkins, and Murray combine for a sparkling 10-for-37 (27%), that's always great. I think the only good team-wide thing to come out of this loss is that they got to the line 32 times.
Though nowhere near as hot as the Kings were a few nights ago, the Lakers did shoot 51.2% without a big glut of layups. I know the Sonics are subpar defensively right now (understatement), but teams are shooting hot against the Sonics lately. On one of the broadcasts, Craig Ehlo was saying that a Peja Stojakovic wouldn't have had a night like he had if Rashard Lewis was in the game, i.e., Stojakovic would have to guard him on the other end. With the Sonics having less (or less reliable) scoring options, Stojakovic doesn't have to expend as much energy on the defensive end, etc.
I hope the Sonics can at least win one game the rest of the way and clinch the division, because Denver doesn't look like they'll lose anytime soon, and Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic aren't coming back anytime soon.
I would have asked Jinkies if he can bear to watch how bad this skeleton crew of a team is right now.