Sunday, April 17, 2005
The Timberwolves needed a win to stave off elimination from a playoff berth, but screw that. The Sonics needed to keep getting their rhythm back after injuries derailed it for at least the past few weeks. The Sonics did a lot toward getting their groove back, and they did it thanks to a big fat helping of Ray and some hefty servings of Rashard.
It was a fairly close game throughout the first quarter. The Sonics twice had six-point leads, but the Timberwolves whittled both leads down before they got out of hand. A three by Rashard Lewis 2:05 into the game got the Sonics a 10-4 lead, which was short-lived. A Nick Collison three-point play with 2:41 to go in the quarter got the Sonics a 23-17 lead. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis scored the first 12 Sonic points, including back-to-back threes. Allen scored nine in the quarter, and Lewis scored seven in a span of 95 seconds. The quarter ended with the Sonics leading 27-24.
The Sonics started taking a bit more control of the game in the second quarter, with their largest lead being 14 points. Danny Fortson scored the first five Sonic points of the quarter on a basket and a three-point play. An 18-8 run to open the second quarter got the Sonics a 13-point lead when Lewis nailed two threes. Not long after, Allen nailed a three to get the Sonics their 14-point lead at 48-34 with 6:26 to go before halftime. Then Minnesota went on a 10-0 run capped by a Wally Szczerbiak dunk. The Sonics missed four shots and turned the ball over once during the run. Coach McMillan called timeout, and the Sonics nailed their next three shots right afterward, a runner from Luke Ridnour, a layup from Damien Wilkins, and an Allen three. That was good for a 7-0 Sonic run and a temporary flagging of Minnesota's momentum. That is, until they went on a 6-0 run to end the half. The Sonics led 55-50 at half, but could have been firmly entrenched in the driver's seat going into the half.
Seattle hit their first three shots of the second half to take ten-point leads early. Luke Ridnour and Ray Allen scored the first 11 Sonic points of the second half, and the Sonics led by twelve after Allen made it 66-54 with 9:22 to go in the third. Another Ridnour runner with 7:07 left put the Sonics up by double digits, which would be the case for the rest of the quarter. Ray Allen hit a three with 4:28 to go in the quarter to put the Sonics up 77-62, capping a 7-0 run that started with the Ridnour basket. The two teams traded baskets for most of the rest of the quarter, but the Sonics were able to stretch the lead out to 17 when it was done, as they led 87-70.
The Timberwolves are too talented to suck this bad, so there's no way this game could have been that easy, right? Right. It was time for Minnesota to mount a furious comeback. How furious? Minnesota was down 21 at the start of the run, and they were down by only five when it was done. It was a torrid 18-2 run by the Timberwolves, and luckily for the Sonics, the run did end somewhere. The Sonics missed 8 of 9 shots (Antonio Daniels hit a layup) during the run, though it was equally frustrating because the Sonics grabbed four offensive boards in the run of futility. As mentioned, though, the Minnesota run did end. The teams traded baskets for a few minutes, and of course that worked to Seattle's advantage as the clock wore down. Then Rashard dunked and hit a three two trips down the floor later to make it 105-94 and seal the game for good. I'd like to have heard the reaction from the crowd from the following occurrence as listed in the game log with 36 seconds left in the game: "Wally Szczerbiak Backcourt."
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 34 pts/10 reb/2 ast (15-26 FG, 4-11 3pt, 0-3 free throws, 41 min), Rashard Lewis 28 pts/5 reb (10-17 FG, 5-7 3pt, 3-4 free throws, 34 min), Luke Ridnour 10 pts/4 reb/11 ast/2 stl (5-9 FG, 29 min), Reggie Evans 6 pts/7 reb (3-5 FG, 23 min)
Damien Wilkins 8 pts/5 reb/3 ast (4-7 FG, 0-2 3pt, 30 min), Danny Fortson 7 pts (3-5 FG, 15 min), Antonio Daniels 5 pts/4 reb/5 ast (2-8 FG, 0-2 3pt, 19 min), Nick Collison 5 pts (2-4 FG, 13 min), Ron Murray 0 pts/2 reb/2 ast (0-1 FG, 10 min), Vitaly Potapenko 0 pts/1 reb/1 ast (5 min)
Jerome James Watch
6 pts/3 reb/3 blk (3-7 FG, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 21 min)
shot 47-for-89 (52.8%) from the floor, shot 9-for-24 (37.5%) from downtown, shot 6-for-10 (60%) from the line, outrebounded Minnesota 43-35, turned over the ball 10 times (forced 11), beat Minnesota 58-40 in the paint, bench was outscored 39-25 (and outrebounded 19-14)
After the 1-for-12 night from Rashard against a poor team in New Orleans, it was good to know that against a much better (though still underachieving) Minnesota team, Rashard can light it up. Even more encouraging was that he was able to do all of this in 34 minutes, which isn't quite a full load, but he still needs to be worked back gradually here from the bone bruise in the foot.
Do you think Ray Allen likes the fact that Rashard's back and mostly healthy? My goodness. He had a double-double of 34 and 10 on a night when the Sonics got dual double-doubles and shook the curse of the double-double. I'm still marveling at Allen's boxscore line, though. That's just freakin' crazy. To top it off, Rashard and Ray were 9-for-18 from beyond the arc. Yes, that's half. That's deadly.
Luke Ridnour had a double-double, and while it's nice to see him have a decent shooting percentage, it's real nice to see him get 11 assists. The Sonics have had a lot of games this year where there have been way too few assists, but you know when the assist numbers are high that their catch-and-shoot game is clicking, and even without Vladimir Radmanovic, this team has the incredible shooters to reap dividends from a catch-and-shoot game.
The bench got badly outscored, but that'll happen when Wally Szczerbiak is on the other team's bench and Rashard and Ray are going nuts. The only thing I'm slightly worried about is Nick Collison being a little less consistent (he hasn't hit double figures since the 8th, and the 1st before that), but that might have to do with the presence of Fortson, though I do like when both of them are on the floor at the same time. It's like offensive rebound mania when that happens. If there's one thing Collison has learned throughout one season around Danny Fortson, it's how to use his fouls. I'm glad that he's not afraid to use them.
I would have asked Jinkies if he has trouble decoding the accent of the Upper Midwest and/or the mom on Bobby's World, don't cha know.