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.