Saturday, April 16, 2005
(posted ~11:28a -- Don't fall asleep when you're trying to type stuff up.)
The Sonics are finally 2004-2005 Northwest Division champions. Yeah, I just had to go with Lo for the photo.
Thank goodness for this softball in the schedule, because I don't know how I would have dealt with it if they would have lost their final 10 straight and coughed up the division. That would have been unbearable, especially when the team sneaking up from behind would have been the Nuggets, and especially when that team is coached by George Karl. I still can't believe Karl is coaching the Nuggets; it just seems wrong on so many levels.
Still, even though the Hornets were the opposition, the Sonics still had to defend, hit their shots, and make their plays. Actually, the fact that the Sonics didn't break the century mark in the score but still had the huge lead is attributable in part to the defense. In this game, the Sonics looked more like the team that got to 50 wins beforehand rather than the team that had lost six straight. The Sonics killed New Orleans on the boards, they got great bench production, and they were finally able to get Ray Allen off to a good shooting night even though Rashard Lewis had a terrible night on offense. That's what his mere presence on the floor does for this team.
The Hornets scored the first basket of the game on their first possession. Jerome James dunked two trips later down the floor to tie it, and the Hornets never led again. Ray Allen scored 7 points in the quarter. The Sonics never led by more than six in the quarter, and it ended up with the Sonics leading by only two, 25-23.
Then the Sonics reeled off an 11-0 run to start the second quarter and stretch their lead to 13, with Ron Murray hitting a couple of baskets in the run. The Hornets missed six straight shots over the span. The Sonics led by double digits for the rest of the half, and it ended with the Sonics up 53-39.
The Sonics shot 19-for-44 (43%) in the first half from the floor. They shot 12-for-16 (75%) from the line and 3-for-9 (33%) from beyond the arc. They were beating the Hornets 25-14 on the boards.
Ray Allen led the Sonics with 14 points. Daniels had 7, Lewis and Ridnour both had 6, Fortson had 5, Collison, Murray, and James had 4, and Wilkins had 3. Collison had 6 boards and Evans had 5.
The Hornets went about five and a half minutes without hitting a shot in the third quarter. The Sonics went on a 9-0 run in the same span, getting the lead to 19. Ray Allen scored 12 points in the quarter and scored the Sonics' final 10 points of the quarter. The Sonics led 73-56 after three quarters.
About halfway through the fourth quarter, the Soncis scored on four straight trips down the floor, which included a couple of three-pointers by Antonio Daniels and Ron Murray. That was an 11-0 run that got the Sonics a lead of 28, which still wasn't enough for me as a fan of the Seattle sports scene. Nick Collison hit a free throw with 1:37 left, which gave the Sonics a 30-point lead, their largest of the night. The Hornets got a basket on the other end, but the lead got back to 30 again when Mateen Cleaves got an assist to get on the scoresheet when he fed Damien Wilkins.
It's a win. It's a division title. If the Sonics can just get one more win, they'll have home court for sure in the first round. I'm kind of on the fence about that, since the Sonics usually play better basketball on the road than at home, but we'll deal with that later.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 32 pts/7 ast (12-19 FG, 4-9 3pt, 4-4 free throws, 39 min), Luke Ridnour 10 pts/4 reb/5 ast (3-9 FG, 1-2 3pt, 3-3 free throws, 25 min), Rashard Lewis 6 pts/4 reb/2 ast/2 stl (1-12 FG, 1-6 3pt, 3-4 free throws, 34 min), Reggie Evans 4 pts/7 reb (2-4 FG, 20 min)
Antonio Daniels 13 pts/2 reb/4 ast (3-5 FG, 6-6 free throws, 23 min), Ron Murray 10 pts/6 reb (4-9 FG, 2-3 3pt, 25 min), Nick Collison 8 pts/10 reb/2 blk (3-5 FG, 2-4 free throws, 26 min), Danny Fortson 5 pts/4 reb (2-3 FG, 15 min), Damien Wilkins 5 pts (2-5 FG, 13 min), Mateen Cleaves 0 pts/1 ast (0-1 FG, 3 min)
Jerome James Watch
4 pts/6 reb/2 blk (2-6 FG, 2 fouls, 1 turnover, 17 min)
shot 34-for-78 (43.6%) from the floor, shot 9-for-23 (39.1%) from downtown, shot 20-for-25 (80%) from the line, outrebounded the Hornets 44-31, turned ball over 11 times (scored 22 points off the Hornets' 16 turnovers), beat New Orleans 34-24 in the paint (and 24-4 on the break), bench outscored Hornet bench 41-31 (outrebounded them 23-11)
Like I said, the fact that the Sonics didn't really shoot the lights out but still won by 25 points is thanks to their defense. That and the fact that the Hornets suck, since they shot 37.1%.
Antonio Daniels got to the line, which is much-needed and par for the course when it comes to him. Ray Allen also went to the line a few times, which I always like to see. Rashard Lewis had a terrible night, but the Hornets had to guard him because he was the other All-Star, and the Sonics never had the defense drawing away from that other All-Star when he was out with the bone bruise in his foot. Thus, Ray Allen sat back and hit 12 of 19 shots, instead of going 5-for-22 or something.
Also in decent shooting news, Ron Murray had a decent night off the bench as well, and grabbed more rebounds than I'd usually imagine. He also hit a couple threes. For the bench as a whole, both Murray and Daniels scored in double figures, and Collison rebounded in double figures.
Of course, you can only take the good details so much when the Sonics had busted out to a big lead in the second quarter and it was basically over from that point. That aside, the Sonics still had to run their sets and make their shots, and they finally looked like the Sonics that we've all been accustomed to this season.
I would have asked Jinkies if he wanted some celebratory chocolate milk in his bowl as opposed to just regular milk.