Saturday, December 30
No other way to describe that game against Minnesota. After the Dallas loss at home, I figured the next 5 games would tell the tale for the Sonics' playoff chances this year - they'd probably win two home games, lose to Denver, then Minnesota ...?
Well, that question mark can firmly be labeled an L, and the Sonics' likelihood at the playoffs is somewhere around the likelihood of an outdoor swim in Minnesota or Denver this week.
Hopefully, the Sonics will rebound against the Celtics on New Year's Eve, but I'm not exactly holding my breath. Oh, in case you're thinking the Sonics will be able to get off to a good start in '07, here's their first two weeks' worth of opponents:
Dallas, Houston, Knicks, Golden State, Phoenix, Miami, Utah
Friends, it just doesn't get easier when you're the worst or next-to-worst team in the Conference.
With all of that in mind, here's some off-the-cuff resolutions for the Sonics for 2007.
Rick Sund - Find a way to deal either Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, or both. If you haven't guessed it by now, this team is going nowhere, and Sugar Ray - new child notwithstanding - is no spring chicken.
Bob Hill - Learn how to use workopolis.com more efficiently.
Clay Bennett - Return "How to Order Coffee and Speak Seattlese in 3 Easy Steps."
Earl Watson - Buy new set of luggage - you're gonna need it.
Danny Fortson - Ask Earl if you can use his old suitcases.
Mickael Gelabale - Stay in shape - you're gonna see a lot of minutes come February.
Ray Allen - Seriously consider selling your home in Seattle while the market's still favorable.
Luke Ridnour - Resolve to buy extra thank you cards for Earl for screwing up his chance at taking your job.
Rashard Lewis - Be thankful your injury keeps you out of crappy Sonic highlights on ESPN for the next two months.
Nick Collison - Resolve to visit mystic Hindu spa where you can find yourself, or at least find Reggie Evans' self, 'cause this Nick ain't the Nick we need.
Chris Wilcox - Resolve to send thank you note to Dunleavy for allowing you to come to Seattle, where you can now make $8 mil. a year to be an underachiever.
And, finally, Johan Petro - Just keep counting the days until free agency, when some dumb GM will undoubtedly give you a six-year deal.
Happy 2007, everybody!
Friday, December 22
Thursday, December 21
Does the slow death-watch of our beloved Sonics make you yearn for the glory years? Well, our pal Eric Neel of ESPN is working on a piece about the Sonics 40th Anniversary (remember that?) and he wants to know what YOUR favorite Supersonics memories are. Here are the specific questions he sent to me:
Leave your answers in the comments and I will make sure E-Neel gets them. My favorite Sonics memory? How about that 1987 Playoff run?
- What do the Sonics mean to you?
- What would you do if they left town -- how would you cope?
- What are your favorite memories over the years?
- Who do you blame for the position they're in now?
- How worried are you?
UPDATE: Thanks for all the fantastic memories &mdash keep 'em coming! But please leave your name so Eric can credit you on ESPN.com. Thanks!
With a miserable 10-17 record, Seattle stands six games back of the #8 seed in the playoffs. And while some might say the playoffs are not important for this team's progress, I disagree. I think the playoffs are essential to the team's development - or else this ship needs to be blown up, and quick, because Ray Allen ain't getting any younger, people, and he ain't getting any better.
In the next 11 days, the Sonics play 5 games: Toronto, New Orleans, at Denver, at Minnesota, and finishing with Boston on New Year's Eve at Key Arena.
The Sonics must win 4 of those 5 to stand any chance at moving forward this year. A 4-1 mark would put Seattle's record at the end of 2006 at 14-18, which would put them amidst the Golden States, Minnesotas, and Portlands of the world. With Allen due back on Saturday, the Toronto game is now winnable again. Likewise, New Orleans and Boston at home. That leaves Minnesota as the one tough road game the Sonics must get.
If I'm Rick Sund and Clay Bennett, I'm giving this train until January 1st to get back on track. If the Sonics manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory more than once in the next 11 days, I'd seriously consider unhooking some of the cars from the train and start adding some different pieces.
Tuesday, December 19
To counter the Nuggets' acquiring Iverson, the Sonics are looking at picking up Penny Hardaway, as Mitch Richmond and Clyde Drexler refused to return their calls.
Anyhoo, Denver's lineup (and, remember, they're the second best team in the NW Division) now looks something like this:
C - Camby
PF - Nene
SF - Melo
SG - JR Smith
PG - Iverson
With Boykins, Najera, et al coming off the bench. Hey, Rashard Lewis, care to re-evaluate your thoughts today?
"Now we're in a position where we can catch up with [the Nuggets] easily," Lewis said of the Sonics (10-16). "You don't wish for things like [the brawl and suspensions] to happen, but now that it has, you think about how that can affect things in the division."
I know, that's a cheap shot at Rashard, as he didn't know Iverson would be on the next thing smokin' for the Mile High, but c'mon, did anyone seriously think the Sonics had any chance at passing the Nuggets this year?
Folks, the Sonics are in last place in the NW Division. The coach they let go - Nate McMillan - is currently leading the "rebuilding" Blazers to 4th place. The Timberwolves, whose roster was seemingly cobbled together by pulling names out of a hat, are 2 games up on Seattle. The Jazz and Nuggets are so far ahead of the Sonics in the standings, Bob Hill would need Dick Cheney to find him a defense contractor to build a $750 million telescope to see them.
This road trip has fried my last sense of loyalty to the Sonics organization. Trade Ray Allen, trade Rashard, make Fortson the new Wheedle - I really don't care. Good luck, Oklahoma City, I hope you enjoy this team more than we have.
Monday, December 18
As the Sonics continue to stumble through a difficult road trip, I'm reminded of David Halberstam's book "Summer of '49," which detailed the incredible 1949 season from the perspective of the Yankees and Red Sox.
One story in particular stayed with me. The Yankees' pitching staff had a term for when a starting pitcher was forced to stay in the game in order to preserve the overall health of the staff, even though said pitcher was getting hammered and losing badly. They called it "your turn in the barrel," in that it was going to kill your ERA and you had no chance of winning, but you did it regardless.
From my perspective, the last four games have been the Sonics' "turn in the barrel." Even in a best-case scenario - a healthy Ray Allen, Robert Swift, and Earl Watson - the Sonics would have struggled on this trip. But with all 3 of those folks MIA for some or all of the trip, the Sonics really didn't have much of a chance. It kills us as fans, but it happens in the NBA. There are trips that you just have no chance in and you just have to muddle through.
That turn in the barrel ends tonight, though, when the Sonics travel to Memphis. The Grizzlies are just that - they've lost 6 straight and are a 2-point win over the Celtics from a 10-game losing skid. Memphis is a terrible rebounding team, and Pau Gasol's return from injury has yet to pay dividends.
If ever there was a team ripe for a home loss, it's the Memphis Grizzlies. The Sonics MUST take care of business tonight, regardless of it being the 2nd of a back-to-back on the troad. A loss tonight would put this club in full-fledged desparation mode, and Chris Wilcox has to be able to take advantage of the weaker Grizzlies for a bona-fide 20-10 night. Luke Ridnour has to punish Mighty Mouse and look more like the guy who went for 26 and 9 assists against the Warriors than the imposter who went for 2 and 1 against the Cavs a couple of nights ago.
Otherwise, with the Mavericks coming to the Key on Wednesday, Christmas could start to get ugly for Bob Hill.
Saturday, December 16
Anyway, I think it's fair to say that more than a few people who follow the Sonics are asking, "What Happened?" right about now.
“I just think our team is at a point right now, we’ve had so many injuries and our schedule has been so tough, they just don’t believe they can win,” Sonics coach Bob Hill said, courtesy of Frank Hughes at the TNT.
Ouch. Anytime you've got a coach saying his players don't believe they can win, you know things are in somewhat dire straits. As Gary Washburn points out in the PI, the Sonics have fallen behind by double-digits in their past three games - all losses. This was the same formula they perfected earlier in the season, and it's one we'd hoped had been lost on the last long road trip, when the Sonics seemed to be emerging from their early-season funk.
Fortunately, Ray Allen is on the mend. Not so fortunately, Pau Gasol is as well, which means the Sonics might not have the same pot of gold sitting at the end of the rainbow they were expecting when the road trip finishes in Memphis. With the next game in Detroit, the final one in Memphis, and the start of a homestand against Dallas, a 6-game losing streak suddenly doesn't look so unlikely.
Worse, if the Sonics do lose all 3 of those games, they'll be standing at 10-17 on the season. Which means that in order to win 42 games - the absolute minimum I'd guess for a playoff bid - they'd have to go 32-23 for the remainder of the season, or basically win 60% of their schedule, something they've managed to pull off once(!) in the past nine seasons.
Thursday, December 14
I live in Canada, and I don’t have extended cable, but I’d like to watch the Sonics play. These are my options:
1. Get digital cable, which enables me to see the Sonics about once every other week on the various Canadian all-sports channels.
2. Buy a satellite dish, and get somebody to install an illegal satellite chip that enables me to watch Fox Sports NW.
3. Buy NBA League Pass, which enables me to watch the games on tv ... and on the internet.
But here’s the kicker. This is the option I want, but cannot get:
4. Get NBA Broadband, but not League Pass
You see, I’m not interested in paying $200 for NBA League Pass for the occasional time I’d like to watch the Sonics play. I am interested in NBA Broadband, but according to NBA policy, you can only get NBA Broadband IF you order NBA League Pass, or, as the league puts it, “NBA LEAGUE PASS Broadband is not sold as a stand-alone product. You must be an active NBA LEAGUE PASS satellite or digital cable subscriber to get NBA LEAGUE PASS Broadband.”
My question is: Why? Why can major league baseball – perhaps the most stodgy of all the major sports – offer all of their games on the internet for about $15 a month, but the NBA can’t? Why am I forced to subscribe to something I don’t want – NBA League Pass – in order to get something I do want – NBA Broadband?
Can someone smarter than me explain why the NBA deems it necessary for their customers to buy League Pass, when there are thousands of people like myself who only want to watch the games on the internet, and who are willing to pay for it? That it’s either pay us $199 for League Pass, or nothing?
At this moment, you can go to mlb.com and sign up for mlb.tv all winter long for $15. Now, there’s not much going on in the winter, but that’s a heckuva deal. Why is Major League Baseball able to do this, but the NBA – the self-proclaimed purveyor of all things hip and now – is not?
Maybe there’s an intelligent explanation out there. Until I hear it, though, I’m forced to use things like TVU or SopCast to watch TV on the internet, and hope the connection works when the Sonics are on.
Wednesday, December 13
So, let's give in to impulse and ponder the unponderable - should the Sonics deal for Allen Iverson? What would it take? Who would you give up to get one of the greatest competitors in NBA history?
Ray Allen? Rashard Lewis? Paccelis Morlende? Ibo Kutluay? They're all fair game in this world.
So go ahead, channel your inner Bob Whitsitt and put on your trading cap. Let us know who the Sonics should deal to get AI (or, for that matter, if they should deal anyone). If you're unsure of salary-cap ramifications, turn to realgm.com for help.
My opening bid: Ray Allen and Danny Fortson for Iverson.
Tuesday, December 12
Well, yours truly is stuck at work this evening for at least an hour or so later than normal, which means I can check out the Bucks-Sonics game on the web. Feel free to comment as it transpires, and I'll try to do the same.
In the immortal words of Brent Musberger, "You are LOOKING LIVE at MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN!"
I agree with the comment posted earlier - Michael Redd v Damien Wilkins (or Lewis, depending on how the Bucks line up) will be huge. I think the Omen can slow down Redd, and I like the Sonics chances tonight. Here's my guess:
Sonics 112-Bucks 105
NEW YORK (AFP) - The National Basketball Association will return to using leather balls rather than the microfibre composite version that brought numerous complaints from players, NBA commissioner David Stern announced.
"Our players' response to this particular composite ball has been consistently negative and we are acting accordingly," Stern said.
Read the rest here.
Likewise, the Sonics' recent streak of five games. David Locke writes at the Sonics' website that the insertion of Nick Collison has been a cause for the recent streak of well-played games. Elsewhere, the web is abuzz with the Sonics' string of improved play.
But is it really improved play? After all, you'll recall that earlier this season, the Sonics went on a road trip where they lost two games by all of two baskets - games that from Sonics' fans' perspective were winnable. "If only Turkoglu had missed, or if the Heat had just not made one extra shot," we said, "we might have swept the whole road trip."
Funny how that "if only" applies to losses, but never to wins. For if one looks closely at this recent streak, one sees that the Sonics are two baskets away from losing three of five, rather than winning four of five. All of sudden, the Collison move isn't such a great one, is it? After all, Collison wasn't starting when the team played well on the road, was he? Ray Allen wasn't sidelined with a bum ankle and Watson and Wilkins revitalized, were they?
Of course, you'll remember how the Sonics played after that trip - they lost six of eight games.
The Sonics are due to start a five-game road trip tonight in Milwaukee. Four of the five games will be against playoff-caliber teams (okay, the Bucks aren't that great, but they're at home and the East kinda stinks this year), teams with a combined record of 27-11 at home. The Sonics will be picked to lose all four games on the road against the Eastern teams, and may be underdogs against the Grizzlies as well.
All of that means that the Sonics could come home from Memphis with a five-game losing streak, and all of that talk about how the Sonics are on the upswing will go straight down the toilet. Add in the continued absence of Ray Allen for the entire trip, and, well, count me as less than optimistic about the Sonics' chances.
Before the Warriors game I said I needed some more convincing before I could jump on the Sonics' bandwagon. The Sonics won, so I should be happy, right?
Well, I've come to the realization that the Sonics are going to continue to tease us all season. That's what mediocre teams do - they win games they shouldn't and lose games they shouldn't. You get overly exicted by mini-win streaks, then depressed after they lose at home to teams they should've destroyed. And who knows, maybe the Sonics will knock off the Bucks tonight and shock the Bulls on Wednesday, kick-starting a push for the top of the division.
I wouldn't bet on it, though.
Monday, December 11
"That's the kind of basketball I have played my whole life," sayeth Flip, regarding his role as the first option on offense for the second quarter of a recent game. "I've always been in that situation (No. 1 option). I just haven't found the right comfort zone in the NBA yet, where I can be that person."
This part, again:
"I've always been in that situation (No. 1 option)."
Right, Flip, you've always been the No. 1 option, if by No. option you mean "the first guy you put in when you're either leading or trailing by 15 points." Or, "the No. 1 option for selecting toppings on the lockerroom pizza."
Seriously, Murray's been in the league for going on five seasons now, and he still hasn't found a role as a starter in this league. Sorry, Flip, but if you think you deserve starter's minutes, perhaps you should give these guys a call.
Saturday, December 9
Nothing like a
Lost in the shuffle - D.E.F.E.N.S.E. I'm talking 14 steals and 26 New Orleans turnovers type of defense. Earl racked up 5 on his own, and Wilkins and Ridnour combined for 7 steals.
On Wilcox, check out these numbers:
FGA in two games since Ray Allen got hurt: 29
FGA in previous FIVE games with Ray in lineup: 31
In other words, the points Ray was getting are going directly into Chris Wilcox' pocket (as well as some other guys, of course; i.e., Wilkins, Watson, etc.). Honestly, I was totally wrong about Rashard Lewis stepping up - either the Hornets were waiting for him to do it and they overcommitted to stop Lewis, or he's just not capable of being the guy on a consistent basis.
More importantly, it hasn't mattered. As always seems to happen in these cases, other people have helped - Watson, Wilcox, Wilkins, Gelabale, Petro - easing the hurt of Ray's absence.
All right, let's take a deep breath. The Sonics just got done knocking off two teams that aren't exactly title contenders. The Hawks and Hornets were a combined 4-9 in their most recent games before taking on Seattle, so a little restraint is due.
To me, the real test will come on Sunday at home against the Warriors. Golden State is on an even playing field with the Sonics. Both are teams that have performed below expectations, but both have a large number of talented players. Most important, both are possible end-of-the-playoff-bracket type teams. A win against the Warriors before the Sonics head out east for a 5-game trip would be flat-out fantastic.
Friday, December 8
Personally, I'm sorry for Ray, but excited for Rashard Lewis. The next two weeks are a great opportunity for him to show that he is ready to be a #1 guy in the NBA. Lewis ought to lead the Sonics in scoring every night, and I hope he can boost his scoring enough to get everyone to realize how talented he is.
Add in the extra minutes for Wilkins, Gelabale and Watson, and the lockerroom ought to be a lot happier these days.
The Sonics will host New Orleans tonight. The Hornets opened the season at 8-3, but have dropped 5 of 6 and now stand at 9-8, partially explained by their complete lack of offense in four straight games, where they failed to score 85 points even once. Jannergo Pargo has been huge off the bench in the Hornets' last two games, and I hope Earl Watson sees the challenge presented to him and finds a way to contain the young Hornet PG.
Obviously, this is a game the Sonics should win. They're at home and the Hornets are struggling, and that usually means a win. However, Allen's absence is the X factor - can the Sonics group together and play better, or will they use Ray's injury as a cop-out for a lack of intensity?
I see the Sonics winning - 105-94.
Thursday, December 7
As the rumors continue to swirl about a Rashard Lewis deal, today marks the anniversary of a trade that sent a Sonics legend and Seattle icon packing. On December 7th, 1990, the Seattle Supersonics sent Xavier McDaniel to the Phoenix Suns.
The trade, of course, turned out to be one of the best in team history, netting the Supes Eddie "not the child molester" Johnson and two first-round draft picks for an unstable player who was clearly past his prime. At the time, however, it was a dagger in the heart of the few Sonics fans left following the team in those bleak post-Lenny, pre-Karl years. X was the soul of the Sonics &mdash the antithesis of the squeaky-clean era of Magic and Bird. The one cool thing about an otherwise crappy team.
We all have our own favorite X-man moments. His spectacular rookie year (in which he was robbed of the Rookie of the Year award by Patrick Ewing, who was injured most of the year). His thundering dunk against the Showtime Lakers in the '87 Western Conference Finals. Choking Wes Mathews.
One of my favorite X-man memories, strangely enough, was after he left Seattle. In 1992, X was with the Knicks, taking on Chicago in the playoffs. The Bulls were at the start of their dynasty and Jordan was at the peak of his untouchableness. Did this intimidate X? Maybe this picture will tell you. X didn't back down to anyone, even His Airness.
To this day, when I see Ray Allen, I still think "How dare he wear number 34. Doesn't he know whose jersey that is?" That's how crazy I am about X.
And the Sonics traded him.
Painful trades, though, have always been part of the re-building process in sports, and the Sonics have been no exception. Trading Gary Payton helped build the miracle team of 2004. Trading Slick Watts helped build the '79 Championship team. Trading Jack Sikma cleared the way for the Chambers/Ellis/McDaniel years. And X-man's exodus ushered in arguably the greatest era in Sonics history &mdash the gold-rush years of Payton and Kemp.
It's just too bad X wasn't around to enjoy it.
Wednesday, December 6
Luke Ridnour’s biggest failing in the eyes of Sonics fans has always been his defense. Everybody loves Frodo’s ability to penetrate, hit the occasional jumper, and generally be his free-flowing Oregon self. It’s his inability to keep other people from doing the same thing that’s been his downfall as a Sonic.
How has he been in that phase of his game this year? Is he improving, or do the Sonics need Earl Watson to come out of his funk to ensure they have any chance of contending for a playoff spot in 2007?
First, Luke’s had a much greater impact on the offense than he has in the past, which gives him some extra leeway for whatever defensive shortcomings he possesses. So far, the Sonics score an extra 10 points per 48 minutes with Luke in the lineup than without, compared to an extra 2 points last year. Obviously, a bulk of that is due to Watson’s horrific performance relative to last season, but Luke has to get some of the credit.
But what about defensively? Again, the numbers are much better than last year – even better than his offensive improvement. Whereas last year the Sonics allowed 6 more points with Luke than without him, this year opponents score 3.6 fewer points per 48 minutes with Ridnour on the floor.
The numbers carry over in almost all phases of the game. Opponents have a lower eFG%, lower rebounding rates, fewer assisted field goals, and commit more turnovers when Luke’s on the floor.
Obviously, this is somewhat due to the fact that Ridnour is on the floor with the 1st unit more than in the past, as he averages an extra 2 minutes a game over last season. But the fact the Sonics allow seven fewer points (107 vs 100) with him on the court this year is a remarkable accomplishment.
Add in his improved FG% (from 41 to 48), increased points (11.5 to 14.9), and improved 3-point shooting (29 to 42), and it looks like Ridnour may indeed be a point guard worthy of keeping around.
In fact, compared to other PGs, Ridnour is quickly becoming one of the upper echelon points in the NBA. His 3-point percentage ranks 5th, he’s 10th in 2-point percentage, 12th in steals per game, and 9th in offensive rebounds per game.
Maybe the easiest way to look at Ridnour’s defensive improvement is the PER for opposing point guards. Last year, Luke’s opponents were at 19.0 PER, clocking in with 9 assists per game and a 51% eFG. This year, the PER is down to 16.2, assists are down to 6.8, and eFG% is at 46 – huge drops across the board.
The increased minutes have negatively affected some aspects of his game (I’m wondering if his FT% will increase to career levels, or if it’s tougher for him to hit the shots when he’s more winded than usual), but it seems that the question is no longer who should be Seattle’s starting point guard, but rather, should Luke Ridnour be on the all-star team?
One team shot 23 3's, one team shot 8.
One team had 44 boards, one team had 28.
One team had 6 guys in double-figures, one team had 3.
Oddly enough, it was the Sonics who took fewer 3's, rebounded better, and featured balanced scoring. Naturally, it took an injury to their best player to accomplish those feats, but it was a great win nonetheless. Damien Wilkins had himself the kind of night we've been expecting for 2 1/2 years - 10 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, all in a mere 23 minutes.
But, to me, the best part of the win was seeing Rashard Lewis take over as the leader. For a long time, we've questioned Lewis' ability to be THE MAN on a team as he's always seemed like a second-banana, Scottie Pippen type player.
But maybe we're wrong, maybe Rashard IS capable of being the guy, he's just never had the opportunity. We often forget how young Rashard is, and how long it takes some guys to grow into their height and get used to the league. I'm not saying the Sonics should deal Ray Allen this weekend, but the idea of Rashard Lewis as team leader doesn't look so bad.
Tuesday, December 5
If you follow the sports world a little too in-depth, no doubt you’ve heard about the Vote for Rory phenomenon in the hockey world.
Rory Fitzpatrick, an anonymous defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks, has drawn more than 30,000 votes as a write-in candidate for the NHL All-Star game – all due to a website created by some goofy Canuck fan(s). By posting his appeal on message boards, and receiving publicity from places like deadspin.com, it has gotten to the point where Fitzpatrick – who has yet to register a goal or an assist this season – is now in the top 15 for defensemen.
Well, I’d like to take that attitude to the hoops world. My write-in candidate? One Mr. Mickaël Gelabale. The rookie forward from France doesn’t deserve to play in the all-star game, but since when did that mean anything?
Herewith, five reasons to vote for Mickaël Gelabale:
1. Best hair in the NBA – bar none.
2. He's the best player in NBA history from Guadeloupe.
3. He doesn’t just have game, he has “French game.”
4. He could kick Tony Parker’s butt.
5. He has an umlaut in his first name.
So, Sonic Nation, do your part. Go to the all-star ballot page, swing down towards the bottom, click on the write-in section, scroll down to Gelabale, and VOTE!
French Sonic Nation, put down your baguettes and help out!
German Sonic Nation, quit marveling at your Christian Welp poster and vote!
True Hoop, HoopsHype, all you big-time websites, do your part to spread the word.
Our goal is not to get Gelabale into the starting lineup, but merely to get his name in the top ten. If only we can frustrate one copy editor, then we’ll have done our part.
Monday, December 4
One section in particular stayed with me. Will was a fan of the Cubs as a kid, and the Cubs’ shortstop in those days was one Roy Smalley (senior, not junior). Smalley was a dismal hitter, yet Will vividly recalled the team’s announcers talking about how Smalley was “due for a hit.” Will argued that Smalley was never due – that he was just a bad hitter and wasn’t due for anything beyond a strikeout.
Bill James took up this argument in a different form, in regard to people “breaking out of slumps” in one of his annual abstracts in the 1980s. James’ argument was that even if someone goes 4-for-5 after weeks of 0-for-4s, it doesn’t mean he’s going to run off a streak of multi-hit games. It just meant he went 4-for-5 today.
Why am I bringing up all of this on a website devoted to the Sonics? Because there seems to be some sort of idea that Ray Allen has broken out of his 3-point slump because of his stellar 4th-quarter performance on Saturday against the Jazz.
After 3 quarters of play on Saturday, Sugar Ray was all of 2-for-9 from the field – flat-out lousy. Of course, in the final quarter he caught fire, nailing 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
Does that mean anything, though? Why does one good quarter outweigh 3 lousy ones – or about 30 lousy ones if you count the previous half-dozen games? Is it just our desire for the universe to become orderly, for the sun to rise in the west and Ray Allen to shoot lights-out?
I’m sorry, but the last time Ray went 4-for-9 from long-distance he followed it up by hitting 10 of his next 46, the very slump he’s supposed to have emerged from in Salt Lake City.
I’m not an idiot – I know Ray Allen’s a borderline superstar and quite possibly the best shooter in the game. But something’s wrong with his stroke this year, and whether it’s the new ball, poor health, or jock itch is anybody’s guess.
Just don’t expect me to believe all is better because of what happened in the course of 10 minutes in Utah.
Saturday, December 2
Was I the only one who sensed a somewhat frenzied, close-to-playoff atmosphere in the 4th quarter last night? Living in Vancouver, I was lucky enough to catch the 4th on tv last night (on Fox Sports Indiana, "Your Home for Pacers basketball and not much else!"), and the back and forth, every possession is crucial style was very exciting.
Of course, I live in Canada, and anything non-hockey related kind of gets my motor started, so who knows.
Anyways, Luke's clutch 3 and even clutcher (?) runner in the lane sealed the deal. And, his 2 non-clutch missed FTs with seconds remaining almost sealed it in the other direction. Regardless, I came away with the following from the game:
1. Mickael Gelabale DEFINITELY needs more playing time. The hair is good enough, but when you add in his energy, it's a no-brainer. See ya, Damien.
2. Earl Watson is becoming as important to the Sonics as the price of whiskey in Salt Lake City. Even in the 4th, it seemed he had nothing to do with the offense.
3. Seattle ran the clock down to zero way too many times in the 4th, resulting in craptacular heaves to beat the buzzer.
4. Fantastic offensive rebounding performance down the stretch. I can't count how many times Seattle kept possessions alive with clutch boards.
5. Rashard Lewis needs to take it stronger to the hole. I noticed two instances (one Clark Kellogg noticed as well) where Lewis went for the fey, avoiding contact move, rather than going up against Jermaine O'Neal and drawing a foul/dunking.
Well, enough of that rambling. What were the thoughts out there on the game last night?
Friday, December 1
It looks as though the NBA's zero-tolerance policy on complaints to officials may be going out the window. NBA Union boss Billy Hunter filed two unfair labor practice charges Friday against the NBA re the new ball and the league's crackdown on player complaints.
Normally, you'd read something like this and say, "So what?" Except that in this instance, Hunter actually has a strong leg to stand on, in that the league never consulted with the union on the rule change, as it is obligated to under the current bargaining agreement.
I'd imagine the end result would be Stern & Co. backing off a bit on the no protest front, and allowing some more leeway to players. As for the new ball, I'm highly skeptical of anything changing, in that it would be a massive egg in the face of the league if they're forced to abandon something like this in mid-stream.
On a completely unrelated matter, Elton Brand is co-producer of Werner Herzog's new film, "Rescue Dawn," as well as 3 other films. According to Herzog, Brand was "the most reliable investor in the whole thing." (courtesy of Harper's Magazine, December issue).
I don't know how many film geeks read this site (with the exception of Paul, that is), but I'm sure they'd appreciate the utter surrealness of that last paragraph.
You’ve no doubt read that Jamaal (“The Other Canadian”) Magloire is on the outs in Portland these days, and the Blazers may be inclined to deal him. As fans of a team with a dearth of talent at center, does it make sense for the Sonics to inquire about a 6’11” former all-star in the last year of his contract?
Yes and no. Here’s a brief rundown on the positives and negatives to getting Magloire.
1. Attitude. Magloire is working on his 3rd team in 3 years, and it would shift to 4 if he’s dealt. That’s never a good sign.
2. Poor foul shooter. This might be a fluke thing, but for the past 2 seasons Magloire has been abysmal. Like I said, it could be just a fluke, as he was solid at the start of his career and decent at Kentucky.
3. Not a great passer, when compared to Collison. Also has a higher turnover rate.
4. Makes $8.5 million this year
5. Not an especially agile defender.
1. Gets to the line often (6.3/game for career/40 minutes), especially in relation to Collison (3.2) or Petro (don’t ask).
2. Playoff experience. He’s not Sam Perkins, but he has played 36 playoff games. To some people, that matters.
3. Solid defensive rebounder; again, his numbers are vastly superior to Collison. 4. Decent shot-blocker. Not as good as he was at the start of his career, but capable of blocking at least a shot a game if given 30 minutes.
5. Not especially foul-prone. This is something of big importance; both Collison and Petro attract fouls like Britney Spears attracts bad publicity. Magloire’s ability to stay out of foul trouble enables him to stay on the court longer, and keeps opponents from getting to the bonus so quickly.
6. Contract expires at the end of the season.
I look at it from this perspective – the Sonics are one decent offensive player away from contending for a playoff spot. Allen, Ridnour, Lewis, and Wilcox aren’t going anywhere, and who knows if/when Wilcox will ever figure out a way to get 15 points a night. That leaves the center position as the best way to add points.
Petro is not going to take this team to the playoffs at this stage in his career; if anything, he’s going to be a hindrance. Collison is inconsistent, and while his peripheral game is nice, he has way too many bad games to be a starter in this league.
Magloire is not a long-term solution for the Sonics, but he doesn’t have to be. He needs to keep the center spot warm for one season until Petro develops, and Swift gets healthy.
In my mind, putting Magloire on this team adds instant offense and catapults Seattle to a chance for the playoffs, a chance which is non-existent at the moment.
Here's how it could work: Deal Danny Fortson and another piece (Wilks, the Greek guy, or Desmon Farmer) to the Blazers for Magloire. If Seattle has to throw in a 2nd-round pick, so be it. The Blazers save some money, get a guy (Fortson) who they can hold onto and wait for his contract to expire, or deal away. Plus, they shed somebody who will start squawking because he's not getting minutes.
If Bennett and the Sonics’ new ownership is serious about keeping this team in town, they need to do something to create excitement. A 38-win team with no chance at the playoffs is not exciting. A 45-win team that makes it as a 7th-seed and a decent chance for a 1st-round upset is.
What do we have to lose?
Tack this to your wall and wait a couple of months for it to ripen:
" I'm not going to look over anybody's shoulder. I don't think that's right. I think when you hire someone to do a job, let them do it. But they know that I'm there, I'm available. I can help them in any way."
Lenny Wilkens, on Rick Sund and Bob Hill
Thursday, November 30
The Sonics announced today that Lenny Wilkens is now their Vice Chairman (credit to sonicscentral.com for noticing this first).
Of note in the team's press release, "[Wilkens] will also continue as lead analyst on Sonics’ telecasts aired by Fox Sports Net."
Sorry, fans, you're going to have to endure some more of Lenny's ancient ramblings on how to play the game, except that now he knows he can't be fired.
Try this on for size: Chris Wilcox has scored in double figures once in the past eight games.
To a casual observer, the fault would lie in the lap of the man making $8 million a year, the free agent acquisition that never performed prior to a salary drive in the spring. But if you look more closely, you can tell that it may not entirely be Weezy’s fault.
For some reason, Wilcox has turned into the Sonics’ version of a Saturday night television show on CBS – invisible.
After taking 70 shots in those first eight games, Wilcox has attempted only 49 in the past eight, a decrease of 21%. His rebounding numbers, minutes played, and all other peripheral stats haven’t changed, so it’s merely a matter of not getting looks.
It’s as if on the plane ride back from New Jersey, the team’s luggage – containing the secret ingredient responsible for the successful trip – wound up in North Dakota, while the Sonics continued on to the West Coast. Somewhere in Fargo, a group of kids stumbled across the magic potion, drank it, and are now contending for the state basketball title while the Sonics continue to lose at a Blazer-like pace.
Prior to the flight home, Seattle was averaging 39-for-84 from the floor and 105 points a game. Since the flight, those numbers are down to 35-for-79 shots and 94 points, while Wilcox has gone from 9 attempts per game to 6, and from 12 points to 8. It’s a shocking development, and completely unexplainable.
I can’t see what the root cause of the problem is, as it doesn’t appear to make any difference if Wilcox plays with Watson or Ridnour, so it’s not as if he needs Earl to play more so he can get more looks. It’s not that he’s not getting enough minutes, as that hasn’t changed one bit from the first half of the season to the second.
As always, the Sonics are over-relying on Allen and Lewis, and Allen and Lewis are getting tired of it. Sugar Ray’s comments in the papers the last couple of days seem to indicate a man frustrated with his teammates’ inability to produce. With Coach Hill’s statement last night regarding a new potential starting lineup, how about we offer this suggestion:
I’d leave Sene in there for 5 minutes, bring Petro off the bench, then bring Collison in with a few minutes left in the 1st quarter. That would allow Wilcox to get some rest and then actually play more than 2 minutes in the 2nd quarter.
And pray Sene doesn’t foul out in 5 minutes.
Notes from last night’s loss: Seattle attempted 8 3’s in the first half, 13 in the second and attempted 14 in paint in the 1st half, 9 in second ... The Sonics made one shot from the right side of the court in the entire game, a Ray Allen 3 in the second quarter.
Wednesday, November 29
Top 5 Greatest Magic-Related Moments in Sonics History:
1. February 24, 2006: The Sonics stop at the wrong restaurant between Orlando and Miami, resulting in half the team getting sick, forcing Bob Hill to play with only 7 available guys. Ray Allen throws up on the bench, both from the food poisoning and from watching Mikki Moore get 27 minutes.
2. January 11, 2006: Ray Allen and Keyon Dooling throw down at the Key, followed by Keyon pursuing Allen into the hallway underneath the stands. Side note: Rashard Lewis drops 45 in 44 minutes in his greatest game nobody will ever remember.
3. March 21, 2004: Admit it, you have no idea why this game is on the list. My friends, when Vitaly Potapenko goes for 21 points, that merits inclusion on any list. Besides, any game featuring Ansu Sesay, Reggie Evans, Andrew Declerq, and Tyronn Lue has to be here.
4. January 5, 1996: This one is a little hazy, but I have a firm recollection of the events, if not the date. This much is sure: The Sonics were losing to the Magic in Orlando, back in the Brian Hill-Shaq-Penny days. With little or no time remaining in the game and the outcome no longer in doubt, Hill reinserts Shaq into the lineup for some statistical achievement. George Karl, sensing this and pissed off like only he could be, decides that he's going to put Frank Brickowski back in. 10 seconds later, Shaq heads to the bench as Brian Hill realizes his future as coach (i.e., Shaq's health) rests in the forearms of the Brick.
5. March 12, 1990: God, I miss the old NBA. Seattle scores 130 points and 7 Sonics score in double figures. Check out the point guards who played for the green and gold that night: Avery Johnson, Sedale Threatt, Nate McMillan, and Dana Barros. My friends, they call that depth. Bonus points for random Reggie Theus sighting.
Tuesday, November 28
Difficult questions, but let’s try to ascertain what’s going on in Sonic wins and losses. To wit:
1. Rashard Lewis is shooting 49% on 3’s in wins; 37% in losses
2. Johan Petro shoots 54% in wins, 35% in losses
3. Luke Ridnour hits 53% of 3’s in wins; 37% in losses
4. Chris Wilcox gets 9 FGA in wins; 7 in losses
5. Damien Wilkins averages a steal every 15 minutes in wins; every 30 in losses
There are more stats to look at, but I think it’s important to note that it’s unrealistic to expect Rashard Lewis and Luke Ridnour to hit 50% of their 3-point attempts this year. In fact, it’s flat-out impossible. Yet, unless they do, the Sonics struggle to score.
In looking at those stats, I’d recommend the following to shake this team out of its’ current 5-losses-in-7-games slump:
1. Give Watson more minutes. Earl is not as bad as he’s shown so far. For the same reason that Ray Allen is allowed to keep chucking when he’s hit 4 of 18, Earl needs to be allowed to keep playing. Now, that doesn’t mean Watson gets to take 3’s with 18 seconds on the shot clock, but if Hill can sit down with Watson and tell him that he’s going to be playing 20-25 minutes every night, regardless of the FG%, it will help the team.
2. Beat Wilcox over the head until he understands that this team needs him to take shots outside of fast breaks or put-back dunks. Force Ridnour to feed Weezy the ball down low at least once a quarter.
3. Allow Petro to keep screwing up. At this point, he’s our only legit big man. We have to pray that the good games eventually start to outnumber the bad.
4. Decrease Ray Allen’s minutes and allow Wilkins and/or Gelabale to play some more.
5. Finally, make up your mind with Danny Fortson. Explain to Danny that if he keeps his head about him, he’s going to get 10-15 minutes a night this year. The Sonics need a backup big man after Nick Collison’s graduation summa cum laude from the Benoit Benjamin School of Infuriating Big Men, and Fortson is helpful on the boards and scoring garbage points in the paint.
Easy, breezy. 5 Simple Steps to Make the Sonics Better. Tomorrow’s game against Orlando will be a real test for this team and the Bob Hill tenure as the coach. If the Sonics drop this one, and the bench fails to get the minutes they think they deserve, the sharks will smell the blood in the water.
Monday, November 27
That said, this quote from Earl Watson post-game on why he was still running on the treadmill (courtesy of the great Percy Allen in the Times) is pretty good:
"Because I need to stay in shape and 15 to 20 minutes just isn't doing it for me."
Ah, sarcasm, the sign of either a very confident team, or a very cranky backup point guard.
I don't know where Hill is coming from re the bench, as it was the starters that killed the Sonics, not the bench. Considering the Spurs' bench outscored the Sonics' 29-25, I don't consider that to be the turning point. I do, however, consider that when two guys (Wilcox/Lewis) who average 33 points give you 15, that might be a factor. Or when your two point guards grab more defensive rebounds than your starting forwards, that might hurt a bit.
According to David Locke, last night was a "lesson" for the Sonics in "championship basketball." This is coming off Friday's "part of the evolution" of Seattle's defense. Just think, if the Sonics can manage to drop 6 in a row, they'll be smart enough to contend for the title!
Seriously, this team is the classic tweener: better than bottom feeder, not good enough for the playoffs. It's a sad recipe for disaster in this town, one that's been cooked for nearly a decade now, one that's been handed down from McMillan to Weiss to Hill. It contains equal parts poor defense, overreliance on outside shooting, and lack of inside presence.
I just hope Oklahoma City likes it.
Saturday, November 25
Well, Martin killed Seattle last night, with an assist from Ray "Don't tell me to stop shooting" Allen. Hopefully, Allen will get out of this recent 3-point slump, and get back to being an all-star caliber shooting guard, 'cause he's killing the Sonics right now. Take a look at his 3-point shooting in the past 8 games: 2-8,2-9,4-11,4-9,1-6,2-8,1-8,1-6.
That's 27% folks, and that ain't going to cut it.
In other news, the official Earl Watson Sweepstakes has begun; I had mid-January in the pool, so I was off by a month and half. The Heat don't have much to offer anything to the Sonics that would match up well salary-wise, unless other teams get involved. Ideally, the Sonics need to get somebody big to either start or help the anemic bench, plus they need to add a backup to Allen, because Sugar Ray's minutes are out of control. At 40+ minutes a night, he can't keep it up for the whole year (and if you think he's always played this much, try this on for size: The last time Ray Allen averaged more than 40 minutes a game, Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq).
One night off, then the Spurs on Sunday. No rest for the weary.
Wednesday, November 22
There are few times I miss living in the States more than Thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving is to American Thanksgiving as Canada is to America: A pale imitation. Nobody here seems to know why they have Thanksgiving, some people celebrate it on Sunday, some on Monday, and there's little if any tradition.
Plus, the only football on Thanksgiving in Canada is the CFL. The CFL's fun and all, but it ain't exactly the National Football League. So, while you're digging into your third helping of stuffing tomorrow and debating whether to fight Uncle Fester for the dark meat, send a sentimental thought north of the border to us poor, dislocated Americans who have to work.
With that in mind, here's a few random thoughts as we head for the holidays:
1. It'd be nice to see Seattle pull one out against the Clips tonight, but LA's undefeated home record has me thinking it's a little less than likely. Let's be thankful the Sonics have an extended home stand coming soon, with a delightful Hawks-Hornets-Warriors trio of games.
2. Surprisingly, Bob Hill did not emerge as one of the 5 coaches on the hot seat in an SI piece today. I'm not saying Hill should go by any means, but the Sonics' off-kilter start certainly has to have some wondering how long he'll last.
3. This is totally off-topic for a Sonics'
Let me get this straight, Michigan's only loss came in a nail-biter on the road against the #1 team in the country, and somehow that's not as good as losing to a team that's going to play in the Las Vegas Bowl? In what universe does that make any sense?
Hey, I can understand if you're going to argue that two teams from the same conference shouldn't play for the title, and while I don't agree with that argument I can see the logic. But to say that SC's loss to Oregon State is superior to Michigan's loss to Ohio State is flat-out stupid.
Of course, as a Duck fan, I assume the BCS is stupid to begin with, so I guess that makes sense.
Tuesday, November 21
Instead, all Sonicdom is rejoicing the Johan Petro sighting. Thought to be extinct, Petro re-emerged and scored 12 points against the Nets, or 6 more than Jason Kidd did.
Honestly, the Sonics and Petro are as likely to keep this up as a Steven Seagal Honourary Oscar, but that's just my opinion. What do you guys think&mdash are the Sonics in need of drastic changes, or should they stay the course and play the hand they've been dealt? What trades should Rick Sund be exploring? Let us know your thoughts.
Monday, November 20
Coming off a trio of losses to Philly, Utah, and Golden State, Seattle's record of 4-7 is, wait for it, .... worse than their record at this point last season.
I'll let you digest that for a moment.
Yes, the Sonics are thusfar underperforming from last season, which was perhaps the most disappointing season in team history.
Of course, we all know that a healthy Robert Swift would have catapulted the team to the top of the NW Division (Seriously, does anyone really believe that getting tattoos and adding 40 pounds means anything? Did anyone really think Swift was going to make a lick of difference on this team? Consider Johan Petro; it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Petro outperformed Swift last season, at best they were equal. So if Petro sucks so far, why couldn't Swift have sucked as well?).
Hopefully, the numbers indicate that despite the record discrepancies, the team is improved. Last year at this point, Seattle was being outscored by an average of 105 to 98, while this season's they're being outscored 103.5 to 103. Of course, last year's numbers were skewed by 3 blowout losses on the road; taking those 3 games out and the numbers are almost identical.
Regardless of the numbers, whatever optimism I had about this team before the season started is rapidly beginning to dwindle. Wilcox' horrible foul-line performance against G-State, Collison's continued mind-numbing ineptitude, Ridnour's Jekyll and Hyde performances, Watson's inability to resemble anything close to a $5 million a year player, and, most notably, the complete and utter lack of anything from Petro and Sene mean this team would be overachieving to win 40 games this year.
The bottom line? Never doubt Vegas, folks. Despite our hope the Sonics would win 40 or even 45 games in 2006-07, the oddsters were right to put this team's over-under for wins at 36.
Oh, yes; the Sonics are home tonight, against the Nets.
Spread: Sonics by 2 1/2
Pete's Pick: Seattle 112-New Jersey 108
Record ATS: 2-3
Friday, November 17
Earlier this year, I wrote that there's no team easier for a Sonic fan to get up for than the Blazers.
I was wrong - I'd forgotten about the Jazz.
I think I speak for all Sonic fans when I say the greatest playoff win in team history was knocking off Utah back in 1996. It wasn't just that Seattle was going to the Finals, it was that Malone, Stockton, and Hornacek were all going home. In honor of that wonderful series, I'm asking all fans in attendance tonight to start a 10-count when Carlos Boozer steps to the foul line. You know, for old times' sake.
One thing in particular worries me about the Sonics this year - the amount of minutes Lewis, Allen, and, especially, Ridnour have been hauling thus far. Both Lewis and Allen are over 40 minutes on the season, and Frodo's been 40+ in each of the past three games. Considering Luke's never averaged more than 33 minutes a game in his career, how long can he maintain this Sprewell-like pace? Likewise, Allen and Lewis are both averaging career-highs in minutes (albeit not as extreme as Ridnour's case).
Unfortunately, Bob Hill doesn't have much in the way of options. It would have been nice to see the Sonics pick up an experienced 2-guard to back up Ray, and it would have been nice to see Earl Watson shoot better (at this point, I think Earl Hickey could pretty much do what Watson's done so far), but it didn't/hasn't happened.
Still, Hill's going to have to start going to the bench more, or else this team's going to crash and burn in January or February.
But enough of my pessimism - how about tonight's game?
Why I like the Sonics: Home team, coming off a strong road trip, second game of a home stand, Kirilenko's out, Giricek's out, great offensive rebounding, unbelievable foul shooting, strong play from the big 3.
Why I like the Jazz: Best start in team history, strong defensive rebounding, smart shooting, outscoring opponents by 8 a game.
Believe it or not, this could be a fantastic game tonight. Aside from seeing Utah wearing black sneakers (this is what passes for news in SLC), we've got two clubs seemingly on the upswing, and with K-Mart gone for the year in Denver, they are the favorites to win the NW Division. The Boozer-Wilcox matchup will be a good one (look for Carlos to easily get 20-10 against Chris), and when the top two most efficient offenses in the league get together, well, you know points will be scored.
Luckily for Seattle, they'll be facing a team that gets killed at the line. Both the Sonics and Jazz have seen opponents get to the line way more often than they do, but tonight it shouldn't be a factor, which will hopefully even out the field.
SPREAD: Sonics by 4
PETE'S PICK: Sonics 110 - Jazz 104
RECORD ATS: 2-2
Thursday, November 16
I have a confession to make.
Even though I write about the Sonics on a blog, I've yet to see them play this year, with the exception of via the magic of Paul Silvi and KING-5 sports. You see, as a resident of Vancouver (the exciting one, not the one next to Portland), I don't get FSN or ESPN, which means I don't get the Sonics.
So it was with much excitement that I saw in the local listings that the Sonic-Sixer game would be on Rogers SportsNet ("Where Curling Matters!") Wednesday night. I set the VCR to record and got ready to see Luke Ridnour go up against his alter-ego ... and 30 minutes later the power went out.
God, in His infinite wisdom, apparently wants me to continue living like it's 1958, where I only get to see the Sonics live, in person, and not through the magic of television.
A lot of people in the Northwest will remember November 15, 2006 as the night of a massive storm that wiped out power, closed roads, etc. I'll remember it as the night a rainstorm cost me a shot at watching the Sonics lose to Philly.
The recently unretired rapper/producer/bigshot appears in a new series of videos for the NBA on TNT (Jay-Z Uncut Video 1 and Jay-Z Uncut Video 2). He's also appearing as an unlockable player in the new NBA Live 07. Oh, and he's a co-owner of the New Jersey Nets.
Maybe we can get Sir Mix-A-Lot to buy the Sonics. Courtney Love? Anybody?
Tuesday, November 14
SEATTLE'S BETTER: The Sonics have me scratching my head more so than any other team thus far. Lost their first two games by 10 points total, lost their next two by only 4 points. The Nets expected to see a lowly Seattle team, and got their butts handed to them in the first half.Dare to dream, my man, dare to dream.
This team has some moxie to them, and they have Ray Ray too. Imagine their frontline with a healthy and effective Robert Swift (now imagine they took David Lee two drafts ago instead of Johan Petro). They are closer to getting back to the playoffs than I originally thought two weeks ago. -- David Thorpe
(thanks to Jason for the tip)
Monday, November 13
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.(AP) Luke Ridnour scored a career-high 32 points and Seattle opened a 28-point, first-half lead and then held off a late New Jersey Nets rally in posting a 119-113 victory on Monday night, giving the road-weary SuperSonics their third straight win.
Rashard Lewis added 27 points, Ray Allen and Chris Wilcox had 22 apiece for the SuperSonics who saw the Nets get within five points in the final 1:39 before Ridnour sealed the game with four free throws.
Read the rest here.
Friday, November 10
Oh, and I'm going to be in the New York Times this weekend. More details to follow.
Thursday, November 9
"And Turner, in an interview, said losing the Sonics could hurt Washington's recruiting efforts of elite basketball players, who like being in an NBA town."
So having the Sonics will make the difference for the Huskies, huh? Maybe if Turner would take a look at the top 10 teams in the pre-season AP poll, he might re-evaluate that position. Of the top 10 schools, guess how many play in cities with an NBA team?
Two. That's right, 8 of the top 10 teams are in cities sans NBA. Shocking, I know, that a "sports executive" would use a flat-out false statement to make a point. It's a pretty good rule of thumb that when people make up ridiculous arguments to back up their points, their points aren't worth making.
Wednesday, November 8
The surprise story to me about Orlando is the strong start of Carlos Arroyo. The King of Puerto Rico has been dazzling for the Magic, easily compiling the best +/- numbers on the team and piling up 17 points in only 23 minutes. Conversely, Jameer Nelson has struggled, which means a change a the point could be coming.
It'll be interesting to see how Ridnour handles Arroyo in their matchups, or if Coach Hill opts to go with more minutes for Earl Watson in an attempt to contain the quick Arroyo.
Want a weird stat? Nobody on the Magic is averaging more than 3.5 assists a game. I don't know what it means, but it's weird, man.
Want another one? Carlos Arroyo is shooting 80% from 3-point range. Yeah, that's right, 80 per cent. I'm guessing that number may slide a little as the year progresses.
The Sonics will struggle a little in the second of a back-to-back, but I can see this being a winnable game. With the Magic favored by 7 points, it's a good bet.
Spread: Orlando -7
Pete's Pick: Seattle 105-Orlando 102
Record ATS: 1-2
Tuesday, November 7
1. John Sullivan (R), Rep. 1st District – Sullivan believes life begins at conception, opposes stem cell research, opposes gun control, believes in building a fence along the Mexican border, voted to make the Patriot Act permanent, loves the flag burning amendment, got a 0% rating from the ACLU, thinks we should keep the troops in Iraq forever, and has been arrested 4 times. Other than that, he’s great.
2. David Boren (D), 2nd District – Former Oklahoma governor, a fiscally conservative Democrat. Currently the President of the University of Oklahoma, Boren called for the NCAA to throw out Oklahoma’s controversial loss to the Ducks this year, because, you know, as the university prez, he didn’t really have much better to do with his time than worry about a football game.
3. Tom Cole (R), 4th District – In favor of privatizing social security and father of this delightful quote from the ’04 election, “What do you think Hitler would have thought if Roosevelt would've lost the election in 1944? He would not have thought American resolve was strengthening. What would the Confederacy have thought if Lincoln would have lost the election of 1864? ...I promise you this, if George Bush loses the election, Osama bin Laden wins the election.”
4. Ernest Istook (R), 5th District – Thinks collecting intelligence on US citizens is great, pro-private social security, pro school prayer, anti-abortion, pro flag burning amendment, pro amendment on same sex marriage (against the marriage, for the amendment), and received money from Jack Abramoff.
There’s more, but that’s enough for now.
You know, when I was in high school and college, the Oakland A’s were the team Mariner fans loved to hate. I was an M’s fan, so I hated the A’s. In fact, I went so far as to boycott Levis jeans, because the Haas family – the patriarchs of Levis – owned the A’s and I sure as hell wasn’t going to buy a pear a pants that went towards paying Jose Canseco’s salary.
In retrospect, it was silly, because the A’s didn’t need my $19.99 to whack the Mariners on a regular basis. But the principle remains the same, and when you buy a Sonics ticket, when you buy a jersey, when the City of Seattle and State of Washington are bullied into building a $500 million edifice sufficient for the Sonics and Storm, our tax dollars will be going to subsidize Clayton Bennett’s profit margins.
Just thought you should know.
1. Ray Allen & Rashard Lewis – combined 54 ppg. That’s just a sick number, and it would be the best in team history if they kept it up. I’ll take your guesses in the comments section for the best all-time 1-2 punch in Seattle history (Hint: It does not involve Danny Vranes and/or Clemon Johnson).
2. Luke Ridnour – an incredible 57% from the field and nearly 19 ppg. We’ll not talk about his abysmal defensive +/- numbers here (see this page), but if he continues to shoot at anywhere near that rate, we can live with the bad D.
3. Chris Wilcox – solid numbers. 12.7 ppg, leads the team in rebounds, good work on the offensive glass, everything the Sonics wanted/expected. Of note, opposing PFs have scored 28, 30, and 11 against him. Sorry, I forgot this was supposed to be positive.
Again, the defense hasn’t been nearly as spectacular as the offense, which currently ranks first in the league in points per game.
Coincidentally, the team ranked last in ppg is Seattle’s opponent Tuesday night, the Heat. Miami’s defense of its title hasn’t gone according plan thus far, unless the plan was to get blown out in their home opener and lose Shaq to injury the first week of the season. I’m guessing that wasn’t in their season-ticket campaign this summer. If Shaq is sidelined tonight, expect a big diet of Dorrell Wright (who?), James Posey and Alonzo Mourning.
It’s possible O’Neal will play, making it the second time this year the Sonics have gone into a game not knowing if a Hall of Famer will be lining up against them. The first time, they felt the wrath of Mamba. We’ll see if the same holds true against the Big Aristotle.
With the league’s worst offense faced against the league’s second-worst defense, something has to give. I’m guessing the Heat crack 100 for the first time this year.
Line: Heat by 7
PETE’S PICK: Heat 103 – Sonics 97
Overall ATS: 1-1
Monday, November 6
SEATTLE (AP) - Shawn Kemp still isn't ruling out a return to the NBA.You and me both, buddy! Of course, we know this isn't the first Kemp comeback, and it certainly won't be the last.
Kemp was honoured on Sunday night as part of the Seattle SuperSonics' 40th anniversary team as voted on by fans of the franchise.
Kemp, who played in Seattle from 1989-1997, was one of 16 players selected.
After receiving the loudest ovations during a halftime ceremony, the six-time All-Star said he will be headed to Italy next month to play for a team in Rome, and still wants another shot at playing in the NBA.
"I've still been in contact with a lot of teams. I played ball all summer," Kemp said. "Between you and me, I would love a chance to win a ring."
read the rest here.
BONUS: Video of Kemp playing in 2006 Summer League!
Sunday, November 5
SEATTLE (AP) -Thin in the frontcourt, the Seattle SuperSonics signed free agent center Andreas Glyniadakis on Sunday.
To make room on the roster, Seattle waived guard Kareem Rush, who the Sonics hoped would provide scoring off the bench. Rush could not overcome a groin injury sustained in training camp.
The 7-foot-1 Glyniadakis was with the Atlanta Hawks during the preseason and averaged 3.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in five preseason games. Last year, Glyniadakis played in the NBA Development League with both Roanoke and Albuquerque. He averaged 10.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 39 games, and scored 21 points for Albuquerque in the league's championship game.
Read the rest here.
Saturday, November 4
My 112-103 prediction was off, but the gist was right – it was high scoring and the Sonics got beat, thanks in no small part to Kobe Bryant’s return from injury, Luke Walton’s career-high 20 points, and Lamar Odom’s continued brilliant play.
Let’s look a little closer at the game:
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
1. Ray Allen, quarters 1 through 3: 30 points
2. Rashard Lewis. 21 second-half points
3. Danny Fortson, +5 in 12 minutes
4. Sonic runs of 14-0, 7-0. and 12-2
5. Chris Wilcox’ double-double
6. Earl Watson’s 13 points and 7 assists
7. Allen’s six steals
8. 9 turnovers, compared to 18 for the Lakers
WHAT WENT WRONG:
1. Allen, 0-for-6 in the 4th quarter
2. Lewis/Luke Ridnour, combined -34
3. Sene, -8 in 11 minutes
4. Lakers’ 26-7 first quarter run
5. Lakers outscore Seattle 37-13 at the line
6. Only 2 blocks to LA’s 7
7. 1-for-10 from 3-point range in the 4th quarter
8. Ronny Turiaf in the 4th quarter
9. Lakers shoot 72% in the 1st quarter
Most importantly, Johan Petro was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat prior to the game during the Sonics’ workout in LA. It’s not known if/when Petro will return to the lineup, but you’ve got to feel for the guy. He spent the entire pre-season being chided for poor play, he lives in a foreign country, playing a game that’s still sort of new to him (i.e., NBA rules), and now he finds out he’s got an irregular heartbeat. I know, he makes a ton of money, but, still, not exactly the best couple months of his life.
The big story from last night was the ridiculous differential in FTA. I didn’t get to watch the game (in their infinite wisdom, the Pacific version of Canada’s ESPN broadcast the Warriors-Blazers game in Vancouver rather than Sonics-Lakers; go figure), but can anyone tell me if the calls were as ticky-tacky as Hill and the players claimed?
Friday, November 3
ESPN reports that Kobe will play tonight, according to his website, which I will not list here because he doesn't need our help getting hits on his site.
As it stands now, Kobe Bryant is still uncertain for tonight’s game in LA – which means the oddsmakers have taken the game off the board.
Regardless of Bryant, the Lakers are off to a fine start, 2-0 with both games featuring strong performances in the second half. In fact, the Lakers employed a Phil Jackson classic – the dominating third quarter – to win both games. Against Phoenix in game 1, LA outscored the Suns 34-21 in the 3rd quarter; against Golden State it was a 38-25 advantage. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that Bob Hill must get his troops to focus coming out of halftime.
A quick look at the Lakers game against the Warriors shows that 4 guys scored in double figures (Radmanovic, Odom, Walton, Turiaf (!)), and that 3 others scored either 8 or 9 points, meaning the scoring is going to be coming from all angles. I’d expect Turiaf to play quite a bit tonight as well, even if Bryant plays. The 4 key guys for LA in both games were Walton, Smush Parker, Mo Evans, and Lamar Odom as the quartet was on the floor for each of the 3rd quarter runs that led the Lakers to victories.
What to expect tonight? Depends on if #8, err, #24 plays. I expect Allen and Ridnour to have strong games again, for Collison to rebound from a miserable first game, for Lewis to have to work very hard to stop Lamar Odom, and for Danny Fortson to rack up a lot of fouls in not very many minutes. Most importantly, I expect a lot of points, almost 80s-esque in fact. In the end, the Lakers should be able to put the Sonics away in the 3rd and 4th quarters.
PETE'S PICK: Lakers 112-Sonics 103.
Overall Record ATS: 0-1