Friday, May 20, 2005
The 2004-2005 Seattle SuperSonics weren't supposed to go anywhere. The only relevant addition they'd made was trading Calvin Booth for Danny Fortson. Nick Collison would play in his first games as a SuperSonic as well, having taken the 2003-2004 season off to rehab after two shoulder surgeries.
After the 2003-2004 season, Nate McMillan decided shortly afterward that Luke Ridnour would start at point guard and Antonio Daniels would come off the bench. A question of past offseasons has been which would stay between Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic. People thought for a long time that the team couldn't keep both. With his seven-year deal, McMillan started Lewis and had Radmanovic come off the bench. Reggie Evans would start as well, growing into a limited-minutes tenacious rebounder. Jerome James was Jerome James, until some flashes of brilliance in the second half of the season and especially the playoffs.
Add to this the wrinkle that the Sonics had nine players due to become free agents after the season ended.
Here was the Sonics' usual starting lineup...
PG -- Luke Ridnour
SG -- Ray Allen
SF -- Rashard Lewis
PF -- Reggie Evans
C -- Jerome James
The Sonics had the same starting lineup for the first 29 games of the season, a stretch in which they went 23-6, a winning percentage of .793. Reggie Evans was the first to be knocked out of the starting lineup, and it was due to a stomach ailment that kept him out three games after the HUGE win at Miami.
What I'm about to do is link some game posts from the season from games I think were key games. You can go to the archive for links to all the games as well. It's sad that I'm looking back at my game posts for the first part of the season and they're pretty sad, but hey, I'd never done many basketball game posts before.
One big thank you to the Seattle SuperSonics for performing well beyond our wildest expectations and getting me through my months-long stint of unemployment and regretful self-pity. Thanks, green and gold!
4 Nov, L 114-84 at LAC
The Sonics fail to score for the first 4:09 of the season, missing their first eight shots while the Clippers nailed 6 of 8 to start. It was going to be a looooong season.
7 Nov, W 113-94 vs. SA
The Sonics demolish the Spurs, scoring on 13 straight possessions in the fourth quarter and holding Tim Duncan to 4-for-16 shooting. Fortson gets 15 points and 10 boards. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis combine for 51 points.
10 Nov, W 108-78 vs. SAC
The Sonics pulverize what was supposed to be a pretty good team in the Western Conference. Vladimir Radmanovic, Antonio Daniels, and Danny Fortson combine for 42 points off the bench as Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis have an off night from the field. Fortson scores 16 and grabs 13 boards.
14 Nov, W 118-113 vs. MEM
The Sonics outscore the Grizzlies 34-13 in the fourth quarter, erasing a 100-84 deficit at the end of three quarters of play.
23 Nov, W 103-92 at MIN
The Sonics hold Kevin Garnett to 5-for-16 shooting from the floor in the fifth game of what turns out to be a 5-1 road trip. Allen and Lewis combine for 51. Daniels has 12 points and 11 assists off the bench.
1 Dec, W 129-119 vs. UTA
Carlos Boozer has the game of his life and Mehmet Okur goes nuts off the bench, but the Sonics win despite having to foul in the closing minutes of regulation to force the Jazz to the line. Vladimir Radmanovic pumpfakes to draw Boozer off his feet and nails the game-tying three-pointer with 10.5 seconds left in regulation.
8-9 Dec, W 102-96 at SA, W 107-102 at DAL
The sweep of the Texas two-step converted many believers to what the Sonics were doing. Allen and Lewis combine for 45 points at San Antonio, and Fortson hits all 10 free-throw attempts; the win despite scoring seven points from the field in the third quarter. Rashard Lewis hits a key three in the waning minutes in Dallas.
14 Dec, W 108-93 vs. LAK
Rashard Lewis goes nuts, scoring 37. Jerome James scores 12 points in his best game of the year to date, surprising everybody.
17 Dec, L 112-110 vs. PHX
The Sonics go up against and hang with another team with a crazy turnaround, the Phoenix Suns. The Sonics get to the limit of team fouls with 8:28 left in the game and end up blowing a seven-point lead in the final minutes.
3 Jan (W 98-96 at MIA) and 9 Jan (W 108-98 vs. MIA)
The Sonics beat Shaq, Dwyane Wade, and the Heat. Twice. Eddie Jones bricks two of three free throws with 0.4 seconds left in Miami, where Fortson goes for 15 and 10, and Allen scores 35. In Seattle, the bench picks up for an off night from the starters. Radmanovic goes nuts and scores 27, while Fortson pulls down 10 boards with 18 points.
25 Jan, W 108-93 at LAK
Vladimir Radmanovic goes out of his mind, nailing eight threes to shock the Staples Center crowd. He comes one three-ball away from Dale Ellis' franchise record.
11 Feb, W 113-105 at PHX
The Sonics win in the Valley of the Sun. Allen has a terrible night from the field, but Daniels scores 20 off the bench. Reggie Evans scores 10 and pulls down 11 boards, while Jerome James puts up 12 points and 7 boards in an offensive blip on the radar.
22 Feb, W 87-85 at HOU
The Sonics win at Houston despite the Rocket-friendly pace to the game. Allen gets shoved out of bounds on a rebound scramble and hits two free throws to win the game. The Sonics have more luck containing Tracy McGrady than Yao Ming.
4 Mar, W 95-87 vs. DET
Again, the Sonics win despite an opponent-friendly pace to the game. Jerome James surprises absolutely everybody, having the game of his life: 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 25 minutes.
16 Mar, L 102-95 at DET
The Sonics lose the rematch. Reggie Evans grabs exactly one offensive rebound in 24 minutes, while the team as a whole surrenders 16 offensive boards. Jerome James oddly does well again, scoring 12 points.
24 Mar, W 96-91 at POR
Damien Wilkins has his coming-out party in the Rose City. After toiling in relative obscurity for much of the year, he steps in for a recovering Rashard Lewis and scores 21 points off the bench.
29 Mar, W 102-99 at MEM
Seattle clinches a playoff berth for the first time in three years. Damien Wilkins makes a key last-minute defensive stop on Shane Battier to win it. Wilkins also scores 13.
15 Apr, W 97-72 vs. NO
After losing six straight and needing just one win to clinch the Northwest Division title, the Sonics finally come through. Rashard Lewis comes back from injury and does terrible, but the offense regains much of its flow, though against admittedly inferior competition.
17 Apr, W 109-94 at MIN
Despite fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the West, the Timberwolves get taken to the woodshed in their own building by the Sonics. Allen goes for 34 and 10. Lewis goes for 28. Ridnour gets 10 points and 11 assists.
23 Apr, W 87-82 vs. SAC, first round Game 1
Jerome James tops the Detroit game during the season and officially has the game of his life. 17 points, 15 boards, 5 blocks. Amazing. Allen has a double-double as well with 28 and 10.
26 Apr, W 105-93 vs. SAC, first round Game 2
Jerome James remains relevant, going for 19 and 9. Nick Collison gets 8 and 8 off the bench. Allen goes for 26.
1 May, W 115-102 at SAC, first round Game 4
Allen goes off, scoring 45 to silence the crowd at Arco Arena. He outscores Mike Bibby 26-1 in the second half. James goes for 17 and 8.
3 May, W 122-118 vs. SAC, first round Game 5
Allen scores 30, but the two most important points come when he blew past Maurice Evans and the Kings for the game-sealing layup.
8 May, L 103-81 at SA, Western Conference Semifinal Game 1
Vladimir Radmanovic badly sprains an ankle in the first quarter, then Allen sprains an ankle as Radmanovic is being taken to the locker room on a wheelchair. Neither return to the game. Radmanovic doesn't return for the series. The skeleton crew of Sonics is demoralized.
12 May, W 92-91 vs. SA, Western Conference Semifinal Game 3
The Sonics crank up the physical play and grind out a badly-needed win. Allen has an off night, Manu Ginobili executes the flop to end all flops, and Tim Duncan misses a last-second hook. Lewis sprains his big toe, and ends up being sidelined for the rest of the series.
15 May, W 101-89 vs. SA, Western Conference Semifinal Game 4
Seattle puts an absolute whuppin' on the Spurs despite missing Radmanovic and Lewis. Allen drops 32, but Luke Ridnour enters the Sonic pantheon, scoring 15 of his 20 points in the third quarter.
19 May, L 98-96 vs. SA, Western Conference Semifinal Game 6
One last hurrah for a thoroughly enjoyable team. One hell of a game, and it went down to the wire.
I hope everyone out there enjoyed following this team as much as I did. A team with nine free-agents-to-be coming together with a common goal. It was truly a beautiful thing.