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December 23, 2007 2:36 PM

All aboard

Posted by Jayda Evans

In the past, the Sonics players have been barred from traveling with their significant others, but under new coach P.J. Carlesimo, that ban has been lifted for occasional trips and definitely for Monday's flight to Portland for the Christmas Day matchup against the Blazers.

Family, friends, and partners of players and staff will travel with the team to Portland and the Sonics are playing Santa, giving the traveling party gifts.

"Not the players," Carlesimo teased. "Those guys don't need anything. They’ve got coal in their stockings."

Tuesday's game is the first time since 1994 that the Sonics have played on the holiday. Seattle lost at Denver 105-96 that season. It was the Sonics' 10th loss in team history on Christmas Day, perhaps a reason the NBA stopped making Seattle a holiday highlight.

The Sonics have faced the Blazers four times on Christmas Day, losing all four with the last being 95-88 in 1982. And Seattle will have another tough time getting their first holiday win this Christmas as Portland is the hottest team in the league, riding a 10-game win streak.

Yet, Portland's play is a nice save for ESPN, which will broadcast the game nationally. Originally the network billed the matchup as the first between top draft picks Greg Oden (No. 1 overall) and Kevin Durant (No. 2 overall). But Oden is out with a knee injury. Now, Portland, which hasn't really been recognized for its play, will get some pub.

"(Guard Brandon Roy is) playing out of his mind. He's a beast," Carlesimo said. Roy is averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 assists during the streak.

Carlesimo will have G Delonte West back in the rotation, but will only play him at shooting guard. West, who is being considered for the starting point-guard role, missed the past nine games because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He returned to full-contact practice on Sunday.

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