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Follow the Sonics off and on the court with reporters Percy Allen and Jayda Evans.

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January 31, 2008 11:25 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

This might be the last time we see Delonte West for awhile barring injuries.

You can't place the fourth-quarter collapse at his feet, but he did little to impress upon the coaching staff that he deserves more minutes. The same holds true for Damien Wilkins and Luke Ridnour who were on the court during the mini-meltdown in which Seattle's 19-point lead (87-68) was reduced to nine (89-80).

Coach P.J. Carlesimo would have liked to play the reserves for the entire period, however, he was forced to bring back the starters who made just enough plays and held off the Cavs who closed to within three points (91-88) in the final three minutes.

It's too bad because West had a nice statistical game (five rebounds and four assists) and Wilkins wasn't horrible. But their inability to score highlighted how valuable Wally Szczerbiak is at times. The reserves couldn't generate points and were unable to draw a foul and get to the line.

Still it's hard to draw firm conclusions in a game in which LeBron James doesn't play. Seattle's 40-point first quarter doesn't mean much nor does the team's 56.4 percent shooting. All of that changes if James is in the game.

Jeff Green made some nice plays and converted 8 of 8 baskets for 17 points to break out of a mini-slump, but he also looked out of control a few times on dribble drives and committed two turnovers.

Kevin Durant displayed his defensive prowess on a pair of blocks against Larry Hughes, but after the first rejection he tried an ill-advised crosscourt pass on a fastbreak that skipped out of bounds for one of his five turnovers.

It was just a disjointed performance by nearly everyone except Kurt Thomas. Gotta love this guy. Every third game, he can bring it and tonight he was fantastic. He finished with 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting, six rebounds, three assists adn three steals in 32:14 minutes.

At 6-9, Thomas is always overmatched in the middle and yet he's able to hold his own against the 7-footers. Watching him bang against Zydrunas Ilgauskas was like watching two grizzlies tussle in the forrest.

No one would ever describe Thomas as swift, however, he made two quick-footed plays in the fourth that helped win the game. With 1:35 left, he blew past Ira Newble for a layup and stepped in front of Daniel Gibson who was driving to the basket for a charge with 8.1 seconds left.

Nearly lost in the game was Chris Wilcox who scored Seattle's first 10 points and perhaps more importantly converted 4 of 4 free throws. The dislcoted pinky isn't bothering him nearly as much any more.

Also, keep an eye on Nick Collison who is wearing a pair of braces that covers his right knee, shin and calf. He underwent and x-ray on his knee several days ago and had to miss Wednesday's practice because of soreness. He appears to walk with a limp, however, it's difficult to tell with Collison because he has a funny stride.


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January 31, 2008 6:46 PM

Cleveland game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

SCORING DROUGHT --- The Supes haven't scored since the 5:54 mark. They lead 91-86.

UH-OH --- Carlesimo is showing tremendous resolve and patience in the reserves who blew a 20-point lead. The Sonics lead by just 12 (89-77), however, Carlesimo has made no moves to put in a starter.

SONICS LEAD 85-68 --- Durant and Wilcox each have 18 points. Green exploded for eight points in the third and he's got 17. Thomas has 12. Hughes leads everybody with 22 points, but he's out of the game now and doesn't look like he's going to return. In fact, I'd be surprised if the Sonics starters reutrn as well. This is a good chance to get West, Petro, Ridnor and Wilkins some minutes.

GAME OVER --- Gooden's body language suggest he's lost interest in this game. He's barely watching from the bench, which is indicative of many of the Cavs.

FIRST-HALF NUMBERS --- Balanced scoring for Seattle which had four players with at least nine points. Durant and Wilcox lead everybody with 12, Thomas 10 and Green 9. Hughes has 9 for Cleveland.

A NEW STREAK? --- Unless there's a total collapse, the Sonics look as if they're going to their second straight game. They've had 2-game winning streaks three other times this season, which is a bit surprising considering they had just 10 wins before tonight.

BEST FIRST QUARTER THIS SEASON --- Seattle leads 40-24. That's not a misprint. The 40 points is the most the Sonics have scored in any quarter this season. Keep this in mind, Seattle scored 88 points in thie previous game. Durant has 12 and Wilcox 10.

WHERE'S MY SHIRT? --- Check out Sportscenter tonight and you're sure to see a hilarious moment when Donyell Marshall tried to check into the game. The Cavs forward leaped off the bench and while removing his warmup shirt, he discarded his No. 24 jersey, which was thrown to the floor. For a second, Marshall had no idea that he was wearing just a black tanktop until the referee pointed it out to him. After fishing through the warmup Marshall found his jersey, but was given a delay of game penalty. Everyone in the crowd and on the Cleveland bunch was cracking up.

JAMES WALKS OUT --- I wonder if James will get the Tom Brady treatment regarding his ankle. He just walked out and he's wearing dress shoes. No walking boot or anything like that. A few fans cheered, but James hardly acknowledged them. He's sitting on the bench wearing blue jeans, a tan shirt and brown blazer.

JAMES' VALUE --- The Sonics lead 28-13 and the Cavs are proving just how valuable LeBron really is. Cleveland looks out of synce. Hughes is firing away from the outside, but there's no one else putting up consistent offense. Before tonight, my MVP vote was Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Chris Paul in that order. Now I'm inclined to move LeBron up to second.

FACES IN THE CROWD --- Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament and Mariners broadcaster Dave Henderson are in the building.

FAST START --- Wilcox has scored all the Sonics points and Seattle is leading 10-4. Watson found him for a nice pass on a fastbreak, but it's looking like Wilcox is just too quick for Gooden.

PRE-GAME NOTES

--- Again, no Lebron James tonight, which stunned many fans as they walked through the building. Even die-hard Sonics fans were bummed that the All-Star guard isn't playing. Said one fan: "I should have went to the Husky game."

--- The Sonics were expecting about 14,000-15,000 tonight. Not sure if that many will show up.

--- Coach PJ Carlesimo and the Sonics were expecting James to play and didn't talk at all about facing a Cavs team without the NBA's leading scorer.

--- The Sonics won't have Wally Szczerbiak and will give his minutes to Damien Wilkins and Delonte West. Wilkins is returning from a one-game departure due to the flu.

STARTING LINEUPS

CLEVELAND
F -- Ira Newble
F -- Dwight Gooden
C -- Zydrunas Ilgauskas
G -- Devin Brown
G -- Larry Hughes

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

Officials: Tom Washington, Sean Corbin and Jason Phillips

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January 31, 2008 5:29 PM

LeBron and Szczerbiak out

Posted by Percy Allen

Cleveland All-Star guard LeBron James will not play tonight after suffering a mild right ankle sprain in the second quarter of Wednesday's 84-83 victory in Portland.

Sonics swingman Wally Szczerbiak sprained right ankle suffered in Tuesday win over San Antonio and will also sit out tonight. Even though an X-Ray on Wednesday revealed no serious damage, Szczerbial will miss his first game of the season.

Reserve G/F Damien Wilkins will return after missing one game due to a flu.

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January 31, 2008 4:27 PM

Roy makes All-Star team

Posted by Percy Allen

Portland Trail Blazer guard Brandon Roy, the former University of Washington and Garfield High star, was selected to the All-Star game.

Here's the release from the NBA.

NEW YORK, Jan. 31, 2008 – The host New Orleans Hornets are one of four teams which can claim two All-Star reserves as the NBA today announced the list of 14 players selected by the coaches as reserves for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. The Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards also have two All-Star reserves in the 57th NBA All-Star Game which will be played on Sunday, Feb. 17 at New Orleans Arena.

First-time All-Star selections Chris Paul and David West of New Orleans are joined by fellow first-time selection Brandon Roy of the Portland Trail Blazers as Western Conference reserves, along with Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz, Steve Nash and Amaré Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns, and the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki.

The East reserves feature the Detroit Pistons' Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison of the Washington Wizards, Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce.

The 14 players selected -- seven each from the Eastern and Western Conferences -- were chosen by the 30 NBA head coaches, who were asked to vote for seven players in their respective conferences -- two guards, two forwards, one center and two players regardless of position. They were not permitted to vote for players from their own team.

Previously selected as starters for the East through the 2008 NBA All-Star Balloting Program presented by T-Mobile were Boston's Kevin Garnett, Cleveland's LeBron James, Orlando's Dwight Howard, New Jersey's Jason Kidd and Miami's Dwyane Wade. Denver's Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, Houston's Yao Ming, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and San Antonio's Tim Duncan will start for the West.

The selections of Nash (Canada) and Nowitzki (Germany) along with voted-starters Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Yao (China), gives the 2008 NBA All-Star Game four international players.

Should any player be unable to participate in the All-Star Game due to injury, NBA Commissioner David Stern will select the replacement.

Boston head coach Doc Rivers and his coaching staff will be on the sidelines for the Eastern Conference All-Stars, as the Celtics previously clinched the best winning percentage through games of Feb. 3 among eligible Eastern Conference teams for All-Star coaching honors. The Western Conference coaching scenario has yet to be determined, with the staffs of the Dallas Mavericks (31-13, .705) and New Orleans Hornets (32-13, .711) still in contention. The coaching staff of either Dallas or New Orleans, depending on which owns the best winning percentage through games of Feb. 3, will lead the Western Conference All-Stars.

All of this year's All-Star participants will join over 2,500 members of the NBA Family for the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service on Friday, Feb. 15. The volunteers will participate in a variety of service projects at 10 different sites throughout New Orleans.

The 2008 NBA All-Star uniforms were inspired by the uniqueness of New Orleans, the look and feel of the French Quarter, and the wrought iron architecture that is unique to the city. The back of the jerseys are silver for the West and gold for the East to represent the conference colors.

NBA All-Star 2008 is a week-long celebration that enables fans to experience the thrill of the world’s greatest athletes playing the game they love and features a full slate of community-enhancing activities and fan festivals such as NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas.

The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 17, will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The game will also be telecast in over 200 countries and broadcast on NBA.com.

Fans will have the opportunity to submit their vote on NBA.com and their mobile phones and have it count towards selecting the MVP of the 57th NBA All-Star Game, as a part of the site's exclusive 2008 NBA All-Star coverage.

The following lists the complete rosters for the East and West teams for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game at New Orleans Arena:

2008 EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STARS

No. Player (Team) Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate College/HS/Country All-Star Selections
1 Chauncey Billups (Detroit) G 6-3 202 09/25/76 Colorado 3
4 Chris Bosh (Toronto) F/C 6-10 230 03/24/84 Georgia Tech 3
3 Caron Butler (Washington) F 6-7 228 03/13/80 Connecticut 2
5 *Kevin Garnett (Boston) F 6-11 220 05/19/76 Farragut Academy (HS) 11
32 Richard Hamilton (Detroit) G 6-7 193 02/14/78 Connecticut 3
12 *Dwight Howard (Orlando) C 6-11 265 12/08/85 SW Atlanta Christian Academy 2
23 *LeBron James (Cleveland) F 6-8 250 12/30/84 St. Vincent/St. Mary HS 4
4 Antawn Jamison (Washington) F 6-9 235 06/12/76 North Carolina 2
2 Joe Johnson (Atlanta) G 6-7 235 06/29/81 Arkansas 2
5 *Jason Kidd (New Jersey) G 6-4 210 03/23/73 California 8
34 Paul Pierce (Boston) F 6-7 235 10/13/77 Kansas 6
3 *Dwyane Wade (Miami) G 6-4 210 01/17/82 Marquette 4

Head Coach: Doc Rivers (Boston)
Assistant Coaches: Armond Hill (Boston), Kevin Eastman (Boston), Clifford Ray (Boston), Tom Thibodeau (Boston)
Athletic Trainer: Tim Walsh (New Jersey)

2008 WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STARS

No. Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate College/HS/Country All-Star Selections
15 *Carmelo Anthony (Denver) F 6-8 230 05/29/84 Syracuse 2
5 Carlos Boozer (Utah) F 6-9 266 11/20/81 Duke 2
24 *Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers) G 6-6 205 08/23/78 Lower Merion HS 10
21 *Tim Duncan (San Antonio) F 6-11 260 04/25/76 Wake Forest 10
3 *Allen Iverson (Denver) G 6-0 165 06/07/75 Georgetown 9
11 *Yao Ming (Houston) C 7-6 310 09/12/80 China 6
13 Steve Nash (Phoenix) G 6-3 178 02/07/74 Santa Clara 6
41 Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas) F 7-0 245 06/19/78 Germany 7
3 #Chris Paul (New Orleans) G 6-0 175 05/06/85 Wake Forest 1
7 #Brandon Roy (Portland) G 6-6 211 07/23/84 Washington 1
1 Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix) F/C 6-10 245 11/16/82 Cypress Creek HS 3
30 #David West (New Orleans) F 6-9 240 08/29/80 Xavier 1

Head Coach: TBD
Assistant Coaches: TBD
Athletic Trainer: Terry Kofler (New Orleans)

*denotes starter
#denotes first-time selection

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January 30, 2008 11:30 AM

Durant, Green and Roy to play in Rookie Challenge game

Posted by Percy Allen

As expected, Sonics guard Kevin Durant was selected to the All-Star rookie team and he will be joined by teammate Jeff Green.

Portland's Brandon Roy, the former University of Washington and Garfield standout, will lead the sophomore team.

Here's the press release from the NBA.

NEW YORK, Jan. 30, 2008 - Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy, the reigning T-Mobile Rookie of the Year, and Seattle SuperSonics guard Kevin Durant, the second overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, lead a list of 18 players selected for the 2008 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam on Friday, Feb. 15 in New Orleans.

The participants in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam were selected by the NBA's assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot. The head coaches for the Rookie and Sophomore teams will be the lead assistants from the 2007 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs.

The T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam will be televised live nationally on TNT and also will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio, while NBA.com will make live audio available to fans in multiple languages.

Forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge, Roy's teammate in Portland, joins him on the Sophomore team, which includes Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson, Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar, Memphis Grizzlies forward/guard Rudy Gay, Toronto Raptors forward and the first overall selection in the 2006 NBA Draft Andrea Bargnani, and a pair of Utah Jazz teammates – guard/forward Ronnie Brewer and forward/center Paul Millsap.

The Rookie team features Durant's Seattle teammate Jeff Green at forward, as well as Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford, Houston Rockets forward/center Luis Scola, Memphis Grizzlies guards Mike Conley and Juan Carlos Navarro, Milwaukee Bucks forward Yi Jianlian, New Jersey Nets forward/center Sean Williams, and Toronto Raptors forward/guard and former D-Leaguer Jamario Moon, also a participant in the 2008 Sprite Slam Dunk competition.

As title partner of the Rookie Challenge and overall NBA Rookie Program, T-Mobile has teamed up with the NBA and NBA Cares to create the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for New Orleans students to experience NBA All-Star 2008. By successfully completing reading and attendance requirements, more than 5,000 "T-Mobile Huddle-Up All-Stars," grades 6-8, from participating school districts in New Orleans will watch the game from the best seats in the house and fill the lower bowl of the New Orleans Arena. T-Mobile Huddle Up is T-Mobile's community relations program that focuses on connecting kids, primarily from single parent families, across the country to positive people, places and programs.

If any rookie or second-year player is selected to play in the All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 17, he also will play in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam on Friday evening.

As with all of this year's All-Star participants, Roy, Durant and the rest of the 2008 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam participants will join over 2,500 members of the NBA Family for the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service on Friday, Feb. 15. The volunteers will participate in a variety of service projects at 10 different sites throughout New Orleans.

In last year's T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, New York Knicks forward David Lee earned Most Valuable Player honors after shooting 14-for-14 from the field and scoring 30 points to lead the sophomores to a 155-114 victory over the Rookies, their fifth straight Rookie Challenge victory. Golden State guard Monta Ellis added 28 points for the Sophomores. Memphis' Gay and Utah's Millsap each scored 22 for the Rookies.

The contest began its current format pitting the Rookies against the Sophomores in 2000 and the Sophomores hold a 6-2 advantage over the first year players. The game will be played in two 20-minute halves, with each team allowed one full timeout and one 20-second timeout per half. There will be one mandatory television timeout in each half. Individual foul totals will be kept, but a player cannot foul out. A team will be in the penalty situation after 10 team fouls or after the second foul in the final two minutes of each half. In the event of a tie game, there will be a two-minute overtime to determine the winner. The Clock will stop after each successful field goal in the last minute of each half.

For the fourth consecutive year, NBA.com will provide basketball fans with the opportunity to have their vote count toward selecting the MVP of the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, as part of the site's exclusive NBA All-Star 2008 coverage.

The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 17, will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio beginning at 8 p.m. EST. The game will also be telecast in over 200 countries and broadcast on NBA.com.

Below are the rosters for the 2008 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam:

ROOKIE TEAM ROSTER

Player Team Pos. Ht. Wt. School/Country
Mike Conley Memphis G 6-1 180 Ohio State
Kevin Durant Seattle G 6-9 215 Texas
Jeff Green Seattle F 6-9 235 Georgetown
Al Horford Atlanta F-C 6-10 245 Florida
Jamario Moon Toronto G-F 6-8 205 Meridian CC (Miss.)
Juan Carlos Navarro Memphis G 6-3 170 Spain
Luis Scola Houston F-C 6-9 245 Argentina
Sean Williams New Jersey F-C 6-10 235 Boston College
Yi Jianlian Milwaukee F 7-0 238 China
Head Coach - TBD
Assistant Coach - TBD


SOPHOMORE TEAM ROSTER

Player Team Pos. Ht. Wt. School/Country
LaMarcus Aldridge Portland F-C 6-11 245 Texas
Andrea Bargnani Toronto F 7-0 250 Italy
Ronnie Brewer Utah G-F 6-7 233 Arkansas
Jordan Farmar L.A. Lakers G 6-2 180 UCLA
Rudy Gay Memphis G 6-9 220 Connecticut
Daniel Gibson Cleveland G 6-2 194 Texas
Paul Millsap Utah F 6-8 258 Louisiana Tech
Rajon Rondo Boston G 6-1 171 Kentucky
Brandon Roy Portland G 6-6 229 Washington
Head Coach - TBD
Assistant Coach - TBD

PREVIOUS T-MOBILE ROOKIE CHALLENGE RESULTS

1994 - Phenoms 74, Sensations 68
1995 - White 83, Green 79 (OT)
1996 - East 94, West 92
1997 - East 96, West 91
1998 - East 85, West 80
2000 - Rookies 92, Sophomores 81 (OT)
2001 - Sophomores 121, Rookies 113
2002 - Rookies 103, Sophomores 97
2003 - Sophomores 132, Rookies 112
2004 - Sophomores 142, Rookies 118
2005 - Sophomores 133, Rookies 106
2006 - Sophomores 106, Rookies 96
2007 - Sophomores 155, Rookies 114

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January 30, 2008 2:16 AM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

PJ Carlesimo tried to downplay this momentous victory. We spoke in the hallways beneath KeyArena and he tried to attribute the victory to San Antonio playing the second game of a back-to-back and the Spurs being shorthanded without Tony Parker and Brent Barry.

Valid points, but the Sonics won because they had just six turnovers, their bigs (Chris Wilcox, Kurt Thomas, Nick Collison and Johan Petro) combined for 48 points and 31 rebounds, they connected on 13 of 13 free throws and Kevin Durant hit a big-time shot in the final seconds.

Oh and the defense was pretty good as well. The Supes held San Antonio to just 85 points, which was a season low for a Sonics' opponent. Seattle held the Spurs to 37 points in the second half and 36.8 percent shooting in the fourth quarter.

Not so surprisingly, Kevin Durant led the defensive charge. The rookie defended Manu Ginobili in the fourth quarter and held him to six points on 2-for-5 shooting. Most importantly, it was Durant who made Ginobili pass to Fabricio Oberto on San Antonio's second to last possession rather than take a shot.

Johan Petro was the other defensive standout. He was credited with just one block, but he altered several shots, especially from Ginobili who had difficultly finishing those wild dribble drizes that he's famous for.

The Sonics also did a great job of limiting San Antonio's second-chance opportunties. The Spurs had just six offensive rebounds and five second-chance points. Seattle had 11 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points.

It will be interesting to see if the Sonics can turn their momentum into a victory agaisnt Cleveland on Thursday. Like the Spurs, who play in Portland on Tuesday, the Cavaliers will play the second game of a back-to-back set.

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January 29, 2008 7:03 PM

San Antonio thread

Posted by Percy Allen

SPURS UP 66-63 --- It looked as if San Antonio was going to blowout Seattle, but the Sonics put together a little run and pulled to within one point (64-63) before Ginobili's shot.

PETRO'S GOT MANU'S NUMBER --- Ginobili would be wise to stay away from Petro who has two blocks against the dervish Spurs guard. Ginobili is able to drible his way around Durant, but he's running into Petro who emphatically sends his shots flying in the other direction.

SZCZERBIAK TO RETURN --- Wally World is having his right ankled re-taped and should be back shortly. Meanwhile, the Supe are hanging tough. They're down 42-39. This looks like it's going to be scrappy game in which the defense will have to keep Seattle in it.

FIRST QUARTER --- Sonics trail 26-25. Big quarter from Durant who scored 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting. Also a big quarter from Ginobili who has 12 on 5-for-6 shooting.

SCALPER'S DEMISE --- I heard from a very reliable source (Steve Kelley) that scalpers before the game were asking for $10 for a ticket to tonight's game. Judging from the sea of red seats, they didn't get a lot of takers. The Sonics have drawn surprisingly well during their 14-game losing streak, however, the threat of a snow storm may have kept many fans at home.

PARKER OUT --- Tony Parker has a bone spur in his left ankle and will not play tonight. He's on the inactive list. It's the fifth game Paker has missed because of the sprained left ankle.

STARTING LINEUPS

SAN ANTONIO
F -- Bruce Bowen
F -- Tim Duncan
C -- Fabricio Oberto
G -- Manu Ginobili
G -- Jacque Vaughn

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

Officials -- Ron Garretson, Bill Spooner and Gary Zielinski

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January 29, 2008 11:39 AM

Sonics court date set

Posted by Jayda Evans

Judge Marsha Pechman set a June 16 trial date for the court case involving the City of Seattle and SuperSonics to determine the team's future in Seattle under the KeyArena lease, which doesn't expire until 2010. The Sonics have filed for relocation to Oklahoma City, the base of chairman Clay Bennett and the ownership group. Bennett's lawyers wanted a speedy resolution, requesting a March 24 trial date, but it was not granted. You can read more details here.

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January 28, 2008 2:48 PM

WNBA and Players Association reach deal

Posted by Jayda Evans

The WNBA and Players Association (WNBPA) announced the signing of a six-year collective-bargaining agreement today. What's next for the Storm is detailed a little here. One of the key pieces vaguely mentioned is that there will be revenue sharing -- essential since the league sold its broadcasting rights to ESPN for the first time in its 11-year history. In the past, the WNBA required teams to purchase air-time for a minimum of six games and national broadcasts were often part of NBA deals, but the WNBA didn't receive any money. There will also be salary increases, but we'll have to do some legwork to see if that's substantial or a quarter in the coffee cup. I definitely wouldn't expect it to be enough so mid-level players wouldn't have to play overseas to supplement their income. The WNBA isn't there, yet.

Here is the press release sent by the league:

NEW YORK, Jan. 28, 2008 -- The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) announced today that they have entered into a new collective bargaining agreement covering six seasons, commencing with the 2008 season and continuing through 2013.

"We are delighted that the CBA is completed and that the players and the WNBA can focus on growing the league's popularity and business model," said Pam Wheeler, Director of Operations, WNBA Players Association. "This is a landmark agreement for our players with important precedents that will enhance salaries, free agency opportunities, and quality of life issues for every segment of our player population."

"We're extremely pleased to have long term stability and to emerge from this process with a unified outlook among ownership and players," said league President Donna Orender. "The new collective bargaining agreement, coupled with our new television deal and increased activation on the part of our sponsors provides further affirmation regarding the growth, popularity and quality of our game."

The announcement follows a successful 2007 season in which the WNBA set attendance records for the Playoffs (216,863 fans attending 21 games) and Finals (74,178 fans over five games) and saw regular season attendance increase by 2 percent. Similarly, viewership of the WNBA Playoffs on ESPN2 delivered an aggregate 15 percent increase year-to-year vs. 2006 while average viewership of the WNBA Finals increased by 12 percent. The 2007 campaign also was highlighted by a new eight-year television agreement with ESPN, which extends the league's relationship with the network to 20 seasons.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, player salaries are guaranteed to increase each year league-wide, and the individual minimum and maximum player salaries will also continue to grow. In addition, the new agreement, like the expired CBA, includes a revenue sharing component should league revenues hit agreed upon benchmarks.

The new agreement also includes adjustments to the free agency system that will increase player movement -- specifically, the number of players that each team may designate as core players decreases from two to one beginning in 2009. When a team designates a player as a core player, the team receives exclusive negotiating rights to that player in exchange for an offer of a fully guaranteed, one-year contract at the maximum salary.

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January 28, 2008 10:15 AM

The fan boot

Posted by Jayda Evans

The fan boot is apparently the new dance created by the Sonics organization. It's very Seattle to be passive-aggressive, but since when can a team tell a ticket-buying public how to feel? You may have read the last post about a fan being booted from Sunday's Sonics loss to Sacramento and that incident triggered a few others to e-mail me saying they had similar incidences. Only these people weren't vile, just voicing their opinion without the use of curse words.

Well, the aptly named Sam Kidder gave me permission to use his name and e-mail on the blog to detail what happened with him and Sonics chairman Clay Bennett on Sunday. I'll give it to you the way Kidder sent it to me because I found it amusing.

Adding more humor (irony?) to the link of events is that the Sonics' hope of ending their 13-game losing streak were booted by the Kings' Kevin Martin in a buzzer-beating shot. And who has the autographed shoes? Rookie Kevin Durant. He got them fresh off the court from Martin following the game.

Anyway, here's Kidder's e-mail about Bennett:

"Clay Bennett, the beloved owner of the Sonics, had the gall to show up at the Sonics-Kings game tonight. When I shared my opinions with him, he had me kicked out of the building! I heard someone mention on sonicscentral that Bennett would be at the game tonight, so I looked for him in the luxury boxes. I spotted him in the box above section 127, sitting with Presti and Bill Russell. Of course my girlfriend and I moved over to the seats right below him. I looked up at him and started chatting with him. Here's the dialogue that followed...

Sam: Clay, what's up? You're a thief Clay!
Clay: shrugs, smirks and blows me a kiss (I swear to God this is no lie)
Sam: I've been a season ticket holder since age 10. Don't steal my team!!!
Clay: makes a face of mock pity
Sam: Sell the Sonics!!!
Clay: walks to the back of the suite, never to reappear

[Thirty] seconds later, two Key arena police officers and a street-clothed man pulled me and my girlfriend out of our seats. They asked for my ID, confiscated my tickets, and escorted me out of the building. I asked the plain-clothed man if he worked for the police or Bennett, and he said "Both." He then told me I needed to show more respect or else I'd be banned from the arena. I told him I'd be back every game...

In retrospect, I was a little out of control but it is still ludicrous that Bennett would have me kicked out despite the fact that I didn't utter a profane word."

UPDATE: The Sonics said this morning that Bennett was not involved at all in Kidder's removal. It was a decision made by KeyArena security and Seattle Police. "[Mr. Bennett] actually was surprised they did it and didn't think it was necessary," a spokesperson wrote in an e-mail.

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January 27, 2008 10:22 PM

Fan given the boot?

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, Sonics chairman Clay Bennett sat in a suite with GM Sam Presti and NBA legend Bill Russell tonight. When a fan spotted the Oklahoma-based owner, he voiced his passionate opinions, allegedly calling Bennett a "thief" and begging for the new owner to sell the team. Well, the fan was swiftly kicked out, according to an e-mail documentation. Bennett supposedly delivered a message to the fan as he and his girlfriend were escorted out of the building that "more respect" needed to be shown. The fan's response? That a $300 investment toward some banner that will fly around New Orleans at the All-Star game with the message "STOP CLAY -- SONICS MUST STAY" was the best drop of cash he's ever made.

The Sonics confirmed that Bennett was in attendance but did not comment about the fan's removal.

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January 27, 2008 5:41 PM

Sacramento game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

MR. STRETCH: KD's 7-4 wingspan came into play when he used the ends of his fingertips to swipe a Sacramento pass and tip the ball to keep it in play. He pushed the ball forward, dancing down the sideline to stay in-bounds, then dished the ball off to a racing Green for a dunk. The Sonics are down 74-73 heading into the final 12 minutes.

AT THE HALF: The Sonics rallied to pull within 54-48 after some solid shooting by Durant, Wally Szczerbiak, and rebounding by Wilcox. Before the game Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said Wilcox getting minutes and starting appeared to improve his play. The power forward had seven points and six boards at the break. yet, the pinky will remain an issue. And it's not like the paint is being dominated by the Sonics (yes, I realize it rarely has this season). Former Sonic Mikki Moore is throwing down like Shaq circa 2007 and the points in paint are even at 20 apiece.

HAWES CHECKS IN: There was a warm applause for Hawes when checked into the game at the start of the second quarter. The Kings are up 25-18 and shooting 52.4 percent from the field. Seattle is 8-for-24 from the field, starting a little sluggish.

SPENCE FOR HIRE: Spencer Hawes is making the rotations around KeyArena, catching up with former Washington teammates Ryan Appleby and Jon Brockman among other familiar faces. Don't worry, there's no OJ Mayo violation here.

"They bought their own tickets," Hawes said. "But I think that would have been allowed. If I would have [gotten them tickets], I think I could have got away with that one."

Sacramento coach Reggie Theus said he's going to give Hawes playing time, too. Some coaches don't take a player's homecoming into consideration when thinking about early game planning, but Theus said he'll have Hawes on the court until he plays himself back to the bench.

In his past five games, Hawes received one DNP and played 17 minutes against New Jersey while his other showings were six minutes or less. Hawes missed training camp and the opening four games of the season due to a knee injury that Theus said has slowed the player's progress this season.

Anyway, here are tonight's starters:

Sonics
F Jeff Green
F Chris Wilcox
C Kurt Thomas
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Kings
F Ron Artest
F Mikki Moore
C Brad Miller
G Kevin Martin
G Mike Bibby

The officials are Eddie Rush, Marc Davis, Brian Forte.

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January 26, 2008 9:10 PM

Funny story on Collison

Posted by Percy Allen

Sometimes I just love the Seattle Weekly. Their Sonics blog is a must-read. Ran across this story today, which made me chuckle.

It's about the author playing against Nick Collison in a pickup game. How many of us have fantasized about playing against a NBA player? Perhaps draining a jumper or making a steal on a guy who gets paid to play basketball.

For most of us it's a fantasy that will never happen. For others, some dreams do come true.

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January 26, 2008 5:03 PM

Thomas undergoes X-rays

Posted by Percy Allen

Wish I could report on today's practice, but I can't. When the media arrived at Furtado Center, the workout had ended and only a few players were taking shots on the court.

As soon as I got there, Wally Szczerbiak made sure to bust my chops about an error in yesterday's post. I wrote the guy is 33-years-old and he repeatedly reminded me that he's 30. Geez, he's a little sensitive. But that was my mistake and it's one I won't repeat again. More on Wally World later.

Practice was cut short because four Sonics were unable to practice. Most of the injuries are minor, including Kevin Durant's right quadriceps contusion, however, Kurt Thomas underwent X-rays on a right knee contusion.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo said Thomas' injury was the most serious.

The other wounded include: Nick Collison (right knee contusion) and Delonte West (right foot soreness).

In light of a few players chirping about their mintues, I asked PJ if he's talked with players about their roles and and listen to what he said here and here.

Back to Wally Z.

He's one of the guys who's wants a bigger role. In an interview with ESPN's Marc Stein, the Sonics sharp-shooter said he hopes to be traded. Wally expressed to me a few times about his frustrations, but he never said he wanted to be traded. Initially I thought this was news, but was reminded that Jayda was all over this story last week.

Trading Wally just doesn't make sense for the Sonics. His contract (he's owed $12M this season and $13M) may seem bloated, but it's off the books next year. And he's Seattle's second-leading scorer averaging 13.1 points. I don't see him leaving unless he really starts complaining or else one of the playoff contenders believe Wally is the missinig piece to a championship and makes the Sonics an unbelievable offer.

Before leaving the practice facility, ran into former Seattle Prep star and UW standout Spencer Hawes and talked to him about playing his first NBA game at home. Hawes missed the first four games of the season while recovering from knee surgery and the 7-0 center is averaging 2.7 points and 2.1 rebonds as a reserve in 35 games.

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January 25, 2008 11:24 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

Just when you thought the Sonics had turned the corner and were headed in the right direction, they play a game like this against and look as if they don't belong on the same floor as the Atlanta Hawks.

What happened?

They were so good on Wednesday. Everything was clicking. The rotation seemed set and roles were being established.

But coach P.J. Carlesimo felt the need to tinker with the lineup and re-insert Chris Wilcox in place of Nick Collison. He conceded Collison did nothing wrong, but he wants to get Wilcox back in the groove. It's a questionable move because Collison was playing his best basketball of the season as a starter. Carlesimo told me he's doing it because Wilcox is more comfortable as a starter and Collison has shown the ability to play well as a starter and a reserve.

In many ways the coach is right as Collison finished with 12 points and Wilcox (18 points and seven rebounds) looked like the only Sonic capable of matching Atlanta's athleticism.

Still not sure how wise it was to make a change after Seattle played one of its best games of the season.

It's also obvioius that 35-year-old Kurt Thomas can't deliver big numbers consistently. He was fantastic on Wednesday (16 points on 6-for-7 shooting and five rebounds) and awful (two points on 1-for-5 shooting and six rebounds) on Friday.

The same can be said for 33-year-old Wally Szczerbiak. Some games he'll score 22 points and other times he'll only have 2. That just shows how important the oldest players are to a team that's the fifth youngest in the NBA.

Still don't understand what's going on with Jeff Green. He's had a combined five points and three rebounds in the past two games.

The only positive from the game was Johan Petro. The guy was a monster. He blocked a career-high five shots, played great defense and flushed two emphatic dunks, including a coast-to-coast jam on Zaza Pachulia. Petro also grabbed six rebounds.

When he plays like this, there's no doubt Petro will continue playiing in the NBA. At times I had my doubts. Too often he settles for that mid-range jumper and rarely does he get the tip jams that's become Collison's signature.

Not sure if Petro will play with the Sonics next season, but a more games like this will force management and the coaching staff to seriously consider the guy.

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January 25, 2008 6:01 PM

Atlanta game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

RECORD SETTER --- Sooner than I could type, Williams scored again to set a new career high.

MARVIN'S BIG NIGHT --- Williams needs a basket to set a career scoring best. He's got 22 points.

THIRD QUARTER --- It took 12 minutes for the Supes to shave two points off their deficit. The Hawks are in cruise control now. They're lauging and joking on the bench, believing the game is already won. They're probably right. Seattle trails 78-59.

SEASON LOW --- The 31 points is a season low for scoring in the first half. The previous mark had been 33 points against Cleveland on Jan. 8.

HALFTIME --- This one is getting out of hand. Wilcox is keeping Seattle close with nine points and Durant has eight, however, the Sonics are unable to contain Atlanta's frontline which is just dominating. Marvin Williams is on his way to a career-best scoring night. He's got 16. His best is 26. Every Hawks starter has at least five points.

GETTING UGLY --- Atlanta leads 44-23. Marvin Williams has 14 points and Josh Smith 8. The Sonics have committed four turnovers and the Hawks' defense is preventing them from getting into their offense.

FIRST QUARTER --- Sonics trail 23-14. Remarkably, their starting frontline is scoreless while Atanta's has 16 points.

NO LOVE FOR MARVIN --- Early in the first quarter, Earl Watson stripped the ball away from Bremerton native Marvin Willams, knocked him to floor and threw the ball off of him as he was falling out of bounds. Late in the quarter, Williams streaked ahead for what looked like a fast break layup, however, Johan Petro raced in from behind and rejected his shot at the rim.

EARLY SIGNS OF TROUBLE --- The Hawks are playing a gambling, aggressive defense that's giving the Sonics fits. They're swittching nearly every pick and getting their hands on a lot of balls. The Sonics trail 15-6.

WILCOX STARTING AGAIN --- Two days after saying he didn't anticipate making any changes to the starting lineup, coach P.J. Carlesimo made a big change and re-inserted Wilcox. Nick Collison returns to the bench despite playing his best basketball of the season. Carlesimo said: "The hardest part was telling Nick because he's done nothing wrong. ... I just feel we need to jumpstart Weezy and get him going."

STARTING LINEUPS

ATLANTA
F - Marvin Williams
F - Josh Smith
C - Al Horford
G - Joe Johnson
G - Anthony Johnson

SONICS
F - Jeff Green
F - Chris Wilcox
C - Kurt Thomas
G - Kevin Durant
G - Earl Watson

Officials:Ken Mauer, Scott Wall and Zach Zarba

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January 25, 2008 4:08 PM

Fans mobilizing for All-Star protest

Posted by Percy Allen

Received this email Thursday and was asked to circulate it among the readers here.

Check it out. It seems interesting. Actually, I think it's pretty amazing. Just shows what folks can do when they're motivated.

Apparently, some folks are trying to raise money to fly a banner over New Orleans during the All-Star weekend. They're also talking about passing out flyers and doing whatever else needs to be done. They're trying to raise funds right now and I think they're well over $1,000.

When you read the posts, check out some of the ideas for the banner. Hilarious.

But seriously, this is an interesting idea for Sonics fans. I'd be curious how Commissioner David Stern would react to a vocal and passionate presence from Sonics supporters at the All-Star game. I can't remember the last if ever anyone has used the game for a political action.

Just spoke to Brian Robinson, the president of Save Our Sonics, and for the record he said he's had no involvement with this idea. He supports any attempt to keep the team in Seattle, but believes flying a banner at the All-Star game is a bad idea.

Said Robinson: "This will grab people's attention, but in a negative way. It's sad to me that we're rooting for the demise of New Orleans just so we can keep our team."

To be fair, from what I've read on the Sonicscentral.com posts, the plan isn't to put down the Hornets or wish them any ill will. From my understanding, the banner and posters (at least the serious ones) simply want to show they're supporting the Sonics at a place where they know Stern and a large gathering of media will be attending.

Robinson is in a tough spot. He's trying to work with the league to keep the team here and was burned a few months back when someone representing his group passed out Stern's work number and urged fans to call the Commish. The league was not pleased and he took the brunt of the abuse.

Still the folks in his group have good ideas from time to time and Robinson knows he's powerless to stop them when he disagrees with their plans.


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January 23, 2008 11:06 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

Can't complain about this effort. Everyone did their jobs for the most part.

Kevin Durant and Wally Szczerbiak scored points (25 and 22 respectively), Nick Collison grabbed rebounds (14, including five offensive boards), Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour combined for 14 assists, 20 points and just two turnovers. And Kurt Thomas was solid in the middle with 16 points.

What more can you ask for?

A win? Well that would have been nice, but wins are a scarce commodity this season.

Just as important was Durant's decision to drive baseline on the next-to-last play instead of settling for an outside jumper. When he's older and stronger, maybe he continues his drive to the rim, draws contact and gets a foul instead of pulling up for 6-foot jumper.

Don't worry about Collison's 1-for-7 shooting performance because he had 7-6 Yao Ming on his back for most of the night and couldn't get off his baby hook shot.

What's a little alarming is Jeff Green's zero rebound performance in 18 minutes. He's got to realize that when he's paired against non-scorers like Shane Battier and Chuck Hayes, he's got to crash the glass and run the floor. Even Johan Petro pulled down five rebounds in 14 minutes.

The 10-man rotation seemed to work as well. Don't expect any changes any time soon if things continue like this. So Chris Wilcox will remain a reserve and Delonte West is going to rack up a few more DNP-CDs.

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January 23, 2008 6:33 PM

Houston game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

PUTZ IN THE HOUSE --- Mariners pitcher J.J. Putz is tossing t-shirts in the stands. He was prompted, but the big righty didn't try to throw one in the second level.

GOOD SIGN --- The Sonics have the lead (83-78) going into the fourth. The Rockets aren't going to give up though. They're feeding Yao in the post and McGrady is taking over from the outside. The duo has combined to score Houstons' last 19 points.

CRITICAL TIME --- The Supes are up 73-61 and they need to keep the lead if they're win this game. They're 9-3 when leading after three quarters and 0-29 when trailing.

HALFTIME --- Seattle leads 59-50.

NICE SPURT --- Seattle started the quarter with nine unanswered points to pull ahead 34-24. Szczerbiak scored five points.

FIRST QUARTER --- The Sonics lead 25-24. Yao has 10 points to lead all scorers and Durant has eight. Watson has six points and three assists. Good period for the Supes, although they still have no answer for Yao. Funny moment was Ridnour throwing an alley-oop to Wally Szczerbia that wasn't close to connecting.

BROOKS CHECKS IN --- With 2:05 remaining in the first quarter, former Franklin High standout Aaron Brooks entered the game. He knocked down a three-pointer in the corner over Luke Ridnour with at the 1:35 mark. Brooks, playing in his first NBA game at home, bought about 100 tickets for family and friends.

YAO CONTINGENCY --- Everywhere the Rockets center plays, he draws a big crowd and Seattle is no different. Still there's plenty of empty seats here tonight. Despite the size, it's a rowdy crowd.

THOMAS WILL RETURN --- He left with a bloody nose, but it won't keep him out of the game.

MID-SEASON EVALUATIONS --- Carlesimo said he'll do more instructing on shot selection now that the Supes have reached the midpoint of the season and the team has a long homestand. They play 13 of the next 17 games at home, including tongiht's contest.

WEEZY SITS --- P.J. Carlesimo told me Chris Wilcox isn't starting because his dislocated right pinky is still bothering the Sonics PF. The coach also attributed Wilcox's conditioning and Nick Collison's solid play. But the main point was Carlesimo doesn't feel comfortable starting Wilcox unitl he proves to him the injury is no longer a factor.

STARTING LINEUPS

HOUSTON
PF -- Chuck Hayes
SF -- Shane Battier
C -- Yao Ming
SG -- Bonzi Wells
PG -- Rafer Alston

SONICS
PF -- Nick Collison
SF -- Jeff Green
C -- Kurt Thomas
SG -- Kevin Durant
PG -- Earl Watson

Officials: Bennett Salvatore, Derrick Collins and David Guthrie


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January 22, 2008 8:45 AM

Latest from OKC

Posted by Jayda Evans

Here's a good feature on the Sonics' rebuilding process, a nice break from all of the relocation stories. It shows how the Sonics are stacked to be a real player the upcoming two offseasons in free agency and the draft, if the Sonics choose to keep their picks.

The salary cap space and want of GM Sam Presti to surround Kevin Durant and Jeff Green with quality people is another reason why the current trade rumors swirling around are not going to happen. Ricky Davis would be toxic in the Sonics' locker room and every player on the current roster can teach the rookies something positive about being a pro and playing the game. Even the way Damien Wilkins is handling his unhappiness with his role is beneficial.

"I'm going to at least look the part," says Wilkins when he exits the locker room in sharp tailored suits after playing scattered minutes.

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January 21, 2008 11:19 AM

Rockets game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

GAME OVER: Two made FTs by Wells closed out the game. Houston won 96-89, handing the Sonics their 11th consecutive loss. The teams meet again on Wednesday at KeyArena.

ADELMAN BAFFLED: The Rockets missed three of their past four FT attempts to give the Supes a glimmer of hope. They're down by five with 8.8 seconds remaining, so it's unlikely, but they won't go away. The continued fight is good to see.

BLOCKED: Two missed FTs by Green and blocked shots by Green and Thomas probably just ended the Sonics' chance to win. But this remains the best game they've played in a month by far. Houston is ahead 93-85 with 23.3 seconds remaining.

BACK ON TRACK: The Supes are back to making smart passes and being aggressive on the defensive end to pull within 87-81 of the Rockets. T-Mac just shot one of those vet baskets in KD's face to kill the little momentum Seattle created, however. There's still 3:30 remaining, so there's still a chance to pull out the win. Green has caught himself guarding Yao, an interesting sight.

BAD SHOOTING: Houston went on a mini run (14-6) to build its biggest lead at 71-63, but both teams combined to miss six shots during the spurt to make for a sloppy stretch.

BENNETT SIGHTING: Just in case you care, Supes chairman Clay Bennett and GM Sam Presti is in attendance. They had a long talk before the game in the stands, but Bennett again didn't speak with media. His being around supports my point that the team isn't intentially throwing games - a ridiculous thought. He seems like he cares about what's going on and wants to see for himself. If he just wanted to swipe the team and move it to OKC, I don't think he'd be around as much.

WEST SITS: Coach P.J. Carlesimo is playing a 10-man rotation and so far that means Delonte West is not part of the mix. Carlesimo commented about it being hard to find minutes for everyone and appears resigned to have West be the one that's upset today. F Mickael Gelabale also hasn't logged a minute.

SAVOR IT: The Sonics played their best half of basketball since defeating New York on Dec. 12. They're down 53-52, but shooting 51.1 percent. Green leads with 11 points and Watson has nine, but missed an open jumper to give the Supes the lead at the buzzer. Yao is the expected monster for Houston, leading with 17 points and 10 rebounds. T-Mac complained a little about KD's defensive coverage to officials and has four points. Carl Landry, who the Supes drafted and traded, is playing well with 12 points while local product Aaron Brooks is scoreless.

DUNKING MACHINE: You're not supposed to be able to dunk like this with the 7-foot-6 Yao Ming on the court, but Green is going off. A young boy behind the press table is going nuts at the powerful slams. Green has three so far in the opening half. The Sonics are tied at 43 points apiece with Houston and running the offense extremely well with Watson and Luke Ridnour swapping the PG role. Ridnour was 3-for-3 from the field, too, for seven points in nine minutes. Watson also has seven points with three assists in 12 minutes.

LOTS OF ENERGY: For a road-weary team, the Sonics are playing with oodles of energy. They're shooting 50 percent from the field and have forced three turnovers heading into the first timeout of the game ahead 13-11. Green had another sick dunk on Battier, but the consensus is it wasn't better than the one on Erick Dampier on Saturday.

T-MAC NOT STARTING: Rockets All-Star Tracy McGrady is going to play off the bench for a second consecutive game. He returned to action on Saturday after missing the previous 11 games due to a left knee injury. He's being brought back slowly, but the team has commented that even as a reserve, you can feel his presence and leadership.

TAKE ME HOME: It's been a long road trip and some players were wishing it was halftime an hour before tip-off. They're still ready to play, though, wanting to put the losing behind them. The team departs for Seattle immediately after the game and is thankfull they don't have another long road stint until March -- seven games in 12 days. "That's going to be a [blank]," said forward Chris Wilcox.

Here are tonight's starters:

Sonics
F Jeff Green
F Nick Collison
C Kurt Thomas
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Rockets
F Shane Battier
F Chuck Hayes
C Yao Ming
G Rafer Alston
G Bonzi Wells

The officials are Dan Crawford, Bennie Adams, and Matt Boland.

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January 20, 2008 1:24 PM

Okies on the prowl

Posted by Jayda Evans

Forgot to mention that Oklahoma City's newspaper, The Oklahoman, is busy getting ready for the Sonics' arrival. The paper is owned by Sonics chairman Clay Bennett's wife's family, by the way. But two reporters were dispatched to Dallas, which is about 200-miles south of OKC, to begin work on features. One is a "get to know your Sonics" type piece where every player is expected to be profiled.

Don't know when the paper will get F Wally Szczerbiak, though. When the idea was explained to him, he gave a crazy look and a firm "No" to the interview request. Szczerbiak also declined to speak to locals following the game, however, stating he didn't want to say anything that would get him "fined or suspended."

"I'll just let my game do the talking," he said of scoring 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half.

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January 20, 2008 12:24 PM

Sonics practice

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Supes recently completed a shoot-around style practice where the players just walked through Houston's sets, shot a few baskets and jetted. It was an odd setting because the session was held at a downtown health club and about 50 people watched.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo moved the session to the health club because the Rockets were practicing at the same time at the Toyota Center. Both teams wanted to practice early and wrap-up quick to get home (or to a TV) to catch the NFL conference championship games today.

Houston coach Rick Adelman and G Tracy McGrady didn't speak to media after their equally short shoot-around style practice. But McGrady practiced and should be fine to play tomorrow against Seattle. He missed 11 games due to a left knee injury, but returned in Houston's win against San Antonio on Saturday. He didn't start, a first with the Rockets, and was 4-for-12 from the field for nine points.

Many are hyping the matchup as T-Mac vs. KD, but Carlesimo said that was unfair. He thinks KD being KD is good enough and also would like people to use the rookie stats for these superstars after 40 games to base their comparisons instead of their superstar status now. Durant said that T-Mac and Vince Carter are the players he patterned his game after and is looking forward to playing Houston for the first time this season. Bet he's extra eager to put that six-point showing against Dallas behind him, too.

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January 19, 2008 10:12 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Jayda Evans

I saw a competitive effort and some splashy plays that make watching a losing team worthwhile, but the Sonics still have a lot of improvement to do defensively. Earl Watson and coach P.J. Carlesimo spoke of the change in intensity since the league is heading into the second half of the season. The games are getting tougher and the Supes have played against eight possible playoff-bound teams this month. It's just that the margin of defeat doesn't have to be so huge.

Carlesimo benched KD in favor of a better rotation in the second half, which is good. Durant finished with a season-low-tying six points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field. He predictably blamed himself and I'm glad Carlesimo didn't force the rookie back out on the court for "experience" when the vets were clearly fighting hard to get the win or a respectable loss.

"His shot selection wasn't good for that one segment," said Carlesimo of Durant in the second half. "The guys that went in in his place played well. Normally speaking, if Kevin's having a good game, making shots or whatever, he would have gone back in quicker. But the combination of the fact that he was struggling, guys played well and the score was coming in our favor, I said, 'Hey, we're getting back in the game and have got to stay with that.'"

Forward Wally Szczerbiak continued to play well, finishing in double figures (26 points) for the 29th game of the season. Meanwhile Dallas product Kurt Thomas, who had about 50 tickets dished out to family, struggled shooting-wise (six points) but had 11 rebounds.

The Sonics will have a light practice on Sunday before playing an afternoon game on Monday against Houston.

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January 19, 2008 5:40 PM

Dallas game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

WALLY'S WORLD: Szczerbiak is leading a late run. Don't think it's possible to overcome a 104-86 deficit with 3:55 remaining, but it's nice to see the Sonics playing harder as a whole. Szczerbiak has a team-leading 22 points.

DURANT RETURNS: KD is at the scorer's table, getting ready to check back in the game. Dallas seems to be running a practice against the Supes, leading 99-79 with six minutes remaining. Collison also is back in the game.

DURANT SITS: Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said he was going to shorten the rotation, didn't know that involved benching the rookie. Durant is a horrid 2-for-10 from the field, but has shot poorly before. He's only played 18 minutes and isn't in foul trouble. Right now vets West, Luke Ridnour, Collison, Wilcox, and Szczerbiak are on the floor and the team did chop the deficit to 14 points. The Sonics are down 89-72 at the end of the third quarter.

WEST CHECKS IN: G Delonte West, who missed the past two games due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot, just checked into the game. He's playing SG with Watson, Wally Szczerbiak, Thomas, Green, and Collison.

GANG GREEN: Green just got filthy with a dunk right on top of Dampier's head to open the third quarter. The Sonics are still down 68-46, though.

AT THE HALF: Durant just went up for a block at the rin against Brandon Bass, committing a foul. But at least the Sonics didn't give up the breakaway dunk and are showing some hustle. Yet, Bass just missed his second of two free throw attempts, grabbed his own rebound and scored at the buzzer to make the score 66-44. The Supes are shooting 41 percent from the field while The Mavs are just as hot as every other oponent this month, shooing 57.1 percent from the field.

DURANT CHEERED: KD received a loud applause from the Dallas crowd during player introductions. Folks of course remember him from his days last year playing at Texas.

BENNETT IN THE HOUSE: Sonics chairman Clay Bennett is in attendance, but denied requests to speak with media. His only words uttered to our group were, "don't eat too much."

YOU'RE THE PROBLEM: Reporters spoke with Mavs owner Mark Cuban while he worked out on the stair climber and although he didn't know much about the latest with Sonics ownership's attempt to relocate the team to Oklahoma City, Cuban basically did say it's Seattle's fault. "It should never come to legal strategy," he said, noting the lack of outcry. He's not on the board that will evaluate the Sonics' application to move, but appears to not be breaking ranks with NBA owners. Cuban also noted that what's going on in New Orleans is sad, too. He believes there are enough people to fill the arena -- owner George Shinn just isn't doing enough to sell tickets. Anyway, we're moments from tip-off and this one could be scary. The Mavs have been off for four days and Coach Avery Johnson said his veteran team is itching to play. Good times.

Here are tonight's starters:

Sonics
F Jeff Green
F Nick Collison
C Kurt Thomas
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Mavericks
F Josh Howard
F Dirk Nowitzki
C Erick Dampier
G Eddie Jones
G Devin Harris

The officials are Bob Delaney, Michael Smith, and Zach Zarba.

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January 19, 2008 7:17 AM

Bobby Jones remains

Posted by Jayda Evans

Seems a lot of players are going to have career nights against the Sonics as Seattle sloughs through a rough first year in its rebuilding plan. Mark former Washington standout Bobby Jones as one of them. He was signed to a second 10-day contract following an electric night for Memphis against the Supes on Friday.

Jones defended Kevin Durant well in his first start as a Griz, forcing the rookie to miss five of his first six shots, and Jones finished with career highs in points (20), rebounds (13), and assists (seven). A second-year swingman, Jones was waived by Denver earlier this season and signed his first 10-day contract with Memphis on Jan. 10.

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January 18, 2008 9:06 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Jayda Evans

This is what happens when you blow up a roster. I want to be on your side as far as problems with Coach P.J. Carlesimo and the rotations, but I don't think y'all aren't getting the point. Carlesimo is here to teach and develop the younger players and I think he's doing that.

He also needs to keep peace with the veterans and that is not happening. Some were giving management an earful following the 24-point loss to Memphis while others have noted many times that since they're in the twilight of their careers, they'd rather be playing to win and not to develop.

That's what makes the season so frustrating. I'm not saying tonight's outcome would have been different, but just think if Carlesimo did the reverse and started Jeff Green to begin the season and then flipped the rotation now as opponents are playing harder. You'd have a veteran defensive-minded rotation that could win some games and a solid rookie that can contribute off the bench. But, again, that's if you're playing to win and the Sonics are not.

Still, giving up 370 points in their past three games is unacceptable. Anyone can play defense. That's just heart. And the Sonics aren't showing any. Whether it's trade rumors, unhappiness with minutes, or uncertainty regarding the relocation of the franchise, they need to ignore the fringe issues and at least play on that end. It's still their job and I know the Sonics can do better than this.

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January 18, 2008 5:08 PM

Memphis game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

NO GO: Jones was stuck at seven assists, but his team won, breaking a five-game losing streak. Memphis shot 52 percent from the field and the Sonics couldn't get it rolling on either end of the court, losing their ninth consecutive game -- the longest losing streak of the season.

TAKING BETS: So, Jones has 16 points and 11 boards with seven assists, anyone think he can get three more assists for his first NBA triple-double? There's 6:05 remaining in the game and the Grizzlies are up 114-88.

WHERE'S THE D?: The Grizzlies are 12-for-23 from three-point range and the Supes are showing no interest in defending the perimeter. I will cut PG Luke Ridnour some slack on one made three, though, since it was an awkward shot at the shot-clock buzzer. But still. Jones just hit another three and has a new career high of 16 points (and counting), playing his most minutes this season.

STANDING O: Jones and Memphis just received a standing ovation from the sparse crowd for their hustle on defense, picking off Earl Watson in back-to-back plays. The Supes' play is really embarrassing, but it's more of a collective lack of focus than disinterest. They're down 68-47 at the half and you can tell the losing is getting to the players, so they're not concentrating like they should. Memphis is also extremely hot, shooting 56 percent from the field compared to Seattle's 37.7.

SHARPTON SIGHTING: Civil Rights activist Al Sharpton is sitting baseline adjacent to the Memphis bench. My guess is he's in town for a program related to MLK Day on Monday.

PURPLE PRIDE: Perhaps Carlesimo shouldn't have worn purple today. Seeing the mock turtleneck and finally getting some minutes has Jones playing like he's back at Hec Ed. He's leading a charge for Memphis, pulling down seven boards and scoring seven points to help the Grizzlies to a 44-29 lead with 8:22 remaining before halftime.

EVERYBODY SCORES: The first quarter just ended and the Supes are down 32-25. Seattle has given up 30 points or more in four of their past five quarters. F Pau Gasol is leading for the Grizzlies with 12 points while the Supes have received scoring from nine players led by Wally Szczerbiak's seven on 3-for-5 shooting from the field.

WEST DRESSED: Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo thought it best to keep G Delonte West on the bench for one more night, but the player is dressed to play. Carlesimo said he'd most likely only use West in emergency situations - foul trouble or in a tight game to pull out a win with some scoring (yeah, West hasn't exactly been shooting well of late, but that's what coach said). With Grizzlies F Rudy Gay out with an illness, it's possible the Sonics could be playing for a win.

Here are tonight's starters:

Sonics
F Jeff Green
F Nick Collison
C Kurt Thomas
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Grizzlies
F Mike Miller
F Pau Gasol
C Darko Milicic
G Bobby Jones
G Mike Conley

The officials are Scott Foster, David Jones, and Eli Roe.

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January 18, 2008 4:42 PM

Gay Out

Posted by Jayda Evans

Memphis forward Rudy Gay is out due to illness. He averaged 18.5 points in two wins against the Sonics earlier this season. A replacement hasn't been named yet, but it should be rookie Juan Carlos Navarro. A spokesman said the team is going to wait until 10 minutes prior to tip-off to name a starter.

UPDATE: Former Washington standout Bobby Jones was moved into the starting SG slot and Mike Miller is replacing Gay at forward.

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January 18, 2008 9:20 AM

Will you miss the Sonics?

Posted by Jayda Evans

I hope you get a chance to read Jim Brunner's story on the latest from Sonics ownership. True, it's all legal strategy, but are you kidding me? Seattle won't miss the Sonics? This is unreal.

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January 18, 2008 8:56 AM

West gets results

Posted by Jayda Evans

The test probably seemed a little pointless seeing how the pain is telling enough, but Delonte West's MRI results showed he does indeed have plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He had the examination on Thursday in Memphis and most likely will not play tonight against the Grizzlies. The foot injury is the latest in a host of injuries the combo guard has faced this season.

West declared himself healthy and ready to play out the final 60 games when he returned from the same injury earlier this month. But he has only played in 11 games since Dec. 1, averaging 4.8 points on 28.9 percent shooting from the field in his past five while also averaging just 3.4 assists.

West will be a restricted free agent at season's end and said the Sonics' evaluations in a contract year for him have messed with his mental focus. Now he may have to sit out an extended period to properly heal his foot, which makes where he fits in the Sonics' plans even more uncertain.

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January 18, 2008 8:25 AM

Trade rumors swirl

Posted by Jayda Evans

Sonics PG Luke Ridnour's name is in the midst of trade rumors, again, this time possibly to the Knicks to replace Stephon Marbury, who decided to have potentially season-ending ankle surgery that appears to be against the club's wishes.

Seattle product Jamal Crawford has taken over the PG duties since Marbury's absence and the Knicks are 3-0 under his guidance. But a pass-happy Ridnour who also has the ability to drive and score or hit the outside shot when healthy could really help the Knicks' offense. New York also has young talent that could fit into Seattle's plan.

But every time a PG goes down, the same names pop up as replacements. There's also talk of the Knicks looking at Memphis' Damon Stoudamire, who the Sonics will face tonight, and Sacramento's Mike Bibby. The trade deadline is Feb. 21, so expect to hear Ridnour, Earl Watson, and even Wally Szczerbiak's name tossed around a lot in the upcoming weeks.

And don't expect the Sonics to make just any move. This club is clearly building for the future. They're looking for expired contracts to open up even more cap space this offseason or hot young talent to meld with rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

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January 17, 2008 10:23 AM

Growing new trend

Posted by Percy Allen

Good story today in the Wall Street Journal about NBA players and web advertising. Players have had their own websites for several years now, but web ads are a growing new trend in the league.

Tornoto forward Chris Bosh created a 78-second spot promoting his All-Star candidacy. According to the Journal, Bosh used a handheld digital camera and spent about $20 on the piece, which took an hour to record.

Phoenix guard Steve Nash went one step further. His 82-second spot is an endorsement for Nike, however, the apparel company had very little input in the production. It's a very cool ad that shows Nash's personality.

New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul will begin airing a season-long series of webisodes on his website CP3TV.com on Jan. 24.

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January 16, 2008 5:55 PM

No game thread tonight

Posted by Percy Allen

Just got an email about the game thread. Sorry folks, but we're covering tonight's game with a stringer.

I should have mentioned this in yesterday's post.

Like many of you, I'm away from the TV and following the game on the internet. I suggest CBS Sportline website as opposed to NBA.com or ESPN.com.

We're sending Jayda to Memphis tomorrow and she's covering Friday's game and for the remainder of the road trip.

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January 16, 2008 3:40 PM

Trash talk

Posted by Percy Allen

Percy Allen: We've been kicking around this idea for a while about exchanging some commentary on a range of issues, so we're going to start it today. First up, the Boston Celtics, who have clearly been top story in the NBA so far. Simple question, are they good for the league?

Jayda Evans: Yeah, we always seem to have some differing opinions regarding the NBA, so it will be fun to kick those thoughts around PTI-style and see what our readers think. As for the Celtics, it's great for the league to have such a historical powerhouse back on top. But it won't last and I'm already annoyed at their fans.

Allen: Why annoyed?

Evans: The whole "Celtics Nation" thing. I can't stand bandwagon jumpers. And one city shouldn't own the majority of the professional sports championships -- assuming the Pats can keep it together. I won't worry about that, though, because Detroit is going to be the NBA champion. Don't you agree?

Allen: What's Celtics Nation? Sounds like a rip-off of Red Sox Nation. I don't remember Celtics Nation back when Bird, McHale and Parish were playing. As for the Pistons, still can't get over the fact that LeBron hung 48 on them in Game 5 last year. FORTY-EIGHT! And I don't trust Flip Saunders. Not sure he's a big-game coach. I'll take the Big Three in a seven-game series. But I guess you're sticking with your homeys.

Evans: Oh, and you're not sticking with your homeys, Mr. Cleveland? LeBron is the MVP of the league, but the Pistons have a TEAM. And remind me, what did the Cavs do in the Finals? That's right, rolled over. I don't care what happened in the past, Detroit is not going to go down like that, again. Anyway, the C's "Nation" is a rip-off of their baseball team, that's what annoys me. Plus, KG, Ray Allen, and Pierce can't be compared to Bird, McHale and Parish. So, watch the "Big Three" references. The new Celtics are an exciting team, fun to watch. Allen finally is playing defense, and it's getting people energized about the NBA, but they won't win it all. Speaking of wins, the Hawks are still missing one, what do you think about the league replaying a game for the first time since 1982?

Allen: It's idiotic.

Evans: True, because it's a regular-season game with no significance as of now (although it could factor in for the Hawks later), but it's not unheard of in sports. There's a lot of money involved -- why not use every resource to get it right?


Allen:
Wrong. There's a reason this hasn't happened in the NBA since 1982 and why no other major professional league would do anything like this today. It's because people want resolution. We're a nation obsessed with instant gratification. That's what sports gives us. (With the exception of soccer.) At the end of the game, set or match, there's a winner and a loser. This do-over stuff is bogus. Besides, Pat Riley and his staff are equally culpable. They should have known Shaquille O'Neal didn't have six fouls. And what happens if Shaq is unable to play when they resume this game? What then? This is sham. It's David Stern overreacting to the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal. It's Stern slapping the Hawks for their second game-operating violation in 14 months. But in the end, it's wrong.

Evans: Overreacting to the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal? I think Stern can find a better hook for his hat, if that's the case. Sports fans want the correct call, too, that's why there's instant replay, etc. The NFL brought Cleveland back on the field to finish a win against Baltimore. Yes, it was immediately after the game was supposedly done, but they wanted to get it right and did. This is no different. The logistics have to be worked out, especially considering Shaq's hip and all, but it's a flub the NBA is right in correcting. I'm just not sure about the timing of the move. Because there are so many games, this kind of decision would be better served in the playoffs.

Allen: You're making my point. I'm OK with limited use of replay in basketball, but once the refs make a decision, it's final. There's no turning back. Speaking of reversing a call, what do you make of the Chicago Bulls players UNANIMOUSLY voting to add another game to Joakim Noah's one-game suspension? You probably liked that idea, right?

Evans: I did at first because it shows team unity and a rookie shouldn't be able to get away with what Noah said to his assistant coach -- whether they're friends or not. But, then the Bulls went out and continued their unenthused play. What was that about? Instead of it looking like the team turned a corner, it's just another tidbit in a circus season that includes getting a coach fired and underachieving.

Allen: Exactly. I found it hilarious that Mr. Rebellion Ben Wallace was leading the charge on this. As if he never yelled at a coach. And why haven't the captains -- Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng -- spoken out on this issue? It undermines the authority of GM John Paxson and interim coach Jim Boylan. And this is the same team that quit on Scott Skiles and got him fired. They can't seem to play together and yet they act as a unit to discipline a rookie. Noah might be immature, but they could have added on another fine or -- here's a novel concept -- make the kid run laps after practice for a week. Imagine that.

Evans: I did read a quote from Hinrich about it, but it would have been stronger initially coming from a more credible player than Ben "Can't Live Without My Headband" Wallace. Wow. I think we just agreed on something. Better stop while we're ahead. Let's see where we stand next month. Peace.

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January 15, 2008 5:38 PM

Worst Sonics team ever?

Posted by Percy Allen

It's been awhile since we've looked at the record books, but it struck me last night after what was probably the Sonics' best game of the season that they're headed for their worst season in franchise history.

Last night's loss dropped them to 9-28, which is slightly behind the pace of the inaugural team in 1967-68 that started 10-28. That squad finished with a club worst 23-59 record.

No Sonics team has ever went this far into the season without 10 wins, which says as much about the history of the franchise as it does about the current players and coaches.

I predicted Seattle would finish 26-56, but now I'm not sure they can make it to 20 wins. With 45 games remaining, the Supes would need to finish 11-34 to get to 20 wins and 15-30 to better the '67-68 squad and finish 24-58.

As for the daily notes, the Sonics flew to New Orleans this morning where they begin a four-game road trip on Wednesday. After this road trip, they play a season-long seven straight games at KeyArena.

With the return of Chris Wilcox and Luke Ridnour, the Sonics are the healthiest that they've ever been this season.

And keep an eye on the power forward position because there's another controversy brewing. You got to love Nick Collison. Last season, Bob Hill asked him to play center and the guy goes out and averages nearly 10 points and 8 rebounds.

This season, he's bounced back to PF, replaces Wilcox and turns into a beast.

P.J. Carlesimo's coaching/managerial skills will be tested in the coming weeks because Collison is playing well enough to remain in the starting lineup, however, Wilcox had been the starter.

I asked Carlesimo several days ago if he believes a starter should lose his job because of injury and the coach said no. He thinks the starter should return to the starting lineup as long as he wasn't out for a significant amount of time.

But how in the world can you demote Collison when he consistently pulls down 15 rebounds and plays solid defense? And if he scores 24 points like he did against the Lakers, then it's nearly impossible to yank him out of the starting lineup.

This one could get interesting.

Finally, I saw Robert Swift last night and meant to talk to him, but didn't have a chance to. Carlesimo told me that the injured center has lost a considerable amount of weight (I'm guessing 15 pounds). Still, it's troubling to see him continue to walk with a pronounced limp after more than a year since his arthoscopic knee surgery.

Carlesimo said Swift's recovery is going well, but didn't elaborate.

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January 14, 2008 11:11 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

What a game.

First let's start with the criticisms. Just read a post from the game thread and Dump PJ said Carlesimo made a mistake when the Sonics didn't go 2-for-1 in overtime. That's fair criticism and Carlesimo talked about that after the game. Seattle had the ball with 45.9 seconds left in a 121-121 tie, but waited until 26.9 seconds before taking a shot.

If they had shot earlier in the shot clock, then they would have had more than 4.3 seconds to run a play on their final possession.

But I don't think Carlesimo is intentionally losing these games. Mismanaging the clock is a minor slip and that could happen to anybody. Besides, I'm not sure if other coahes wouldn't have done the same thing.

And if you had seen him afterwards, you'd know he wasn't tanking that game. The man was exhausted during post-game interviews. All the blood had rushed from his face. He looked ashen and deflated. Trust me, nobody wants to lose these types of games. I'm not suggesting some NBA teams don't try as hard as they could, but this wasn't one of those times.

Now for some positive signs.

We know Nick Collison (24 points and 18 rebounds) is capable of these types of games and Kurt Thomas (16 points and 9 rebounds) and Chris Wilcox (12 points and 9 rebounds) played well, but I think we discovered a lot about Jeff Green and maybe figured out the point guard situation for this season.

Even though Green took most of the abuse in Kobe Bryant's 48-point night, the rookie played exceptionally well early in the game when he was aggressive offensively with dribble drives to the basket. I still don't see the passing skills that scouts raved about and his outside shot needs plenty of work, but he's a beast when he's active on the glass and running in transition.

Speaking of running in transition, Luke Ridnour reminded many why he was the starting point guard. He finished with 11 assists and 10 points on 5-for-12 shooting. The Sonics also scored 21 fastbreak points largely because Ridnour increased the tempo.

I asked Carlesimo before the game if he was going to start Ridnour for a long stretch at some point this season and the coach said yes. He also said, it was more important that he sees Ridnour on the floor with certain players such as Durant, Green and Thomas.

Ridnour nearly ruined his night by dribbling too long in possessions late in the game and throwing up some wild shots, but he committed just one turnover and held his ground against Derek Fisher (12 points).

Damien Wilkins isn't likely to see much playing time in the near future. He played five seconds and Delonte West has got to figure out how he can be effective with limited minutes. Tonight he had more turnovers (three) than points (two), which is never good.

All in all a solid effort in a game that could have gone either way.

For those who weren't there, it was probably the most electric KeyArena has been all season. Not sure if the enthusiasm translated to television, but the crowd was crazy for only 13,452.

I'm curious if the Sonics can sustain this effort when they begin a four-game road trip in New Orleans on Wednesday. It would be a shame to let this momentum go away.

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January 14, 2008 7:01 PM

Los Angeles Lakers game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

BRYANT TRACKER --- He's on the bench to start the fourth, but he's got 35. This is an important time for the Sonics who need to stretch their lead while Bryant is out.

THIRD QUARTER --- This is easily the best three quarters the Sonics have played this season. Keep in mind the Lakers played 24 hours earlier and they're without Andrew Bynum, but this is an impressive performance. Carlesimo has six players in double figures with Wally (17 points) leaidn the way. Seattle leads 91-87.

SONICS LEADING --- Durant gave Seattle a 85-83 lead with a leaning layup on a fastbreak. Nice comeback for the Supes.

ENTERTAINING GAME --- When the Sonics play this well, it makes you wonder how they can be so awful at other times. This is one of their best game since beating Toronto. The difference is Green who is being aggressive and taking the ball strong to the rim. Even though they've given up 75 points, the defense hasn't played poorly. Bryant has 29 and let's face it, you're not stopping that guy.

HALFTIME --- The offense is back. Keep in mind, the Sonics scored 70 points in their previous game. In two quarters, they're eight points from that mark, but trail 64-62. Wally Szczerbiak has 14 points, Durant 12 and Thomas 10. Bryant has 21 and former Gonzaga standout Ronny Turiaf 12.

KOBE TRACKER --- Not sure how often we'll suse this item tonight, but he's got 17 with a little over four minutes remaining before halftime.Bryant scored 50 on teh Sonics in their final meeting last season.

AMAZING STAT --- Seattle has eight turnovers. Los Angeles none.

FIRST QUARTER --- Good start for Green, who has eight points on 3-for-5 shooting and Thomas (6 points and three rebounds). Bryant is trying to carry the Lakers by himself. He's got 12 points, but has also taken 11 shots. Sonics lead 29-28.

LOW TURNOUT --- It used to be Bryant was a big enough of a draw to fill KeyArena, however, there's many empty red seats tonight. There's even a lot of empty seats in the lower bowl behind the basket near the Sonics bench. Those are the $72-42 seats. I'm curious what the "official" attendance will be.

ZONING --- The Sonics practiced a box-in-1 zone in Sunday's practice, but they used some type of conventional zone late in the first quarter.

"I MISSED YOU LUKE" --- That was the chant of some guy in the stand when Ridnour checked in.

WEEZY CHECKS IN --- It didn't take Chris Wilcox long to make his presence known. He was on the court for one minute when Watson found him slicing the lane for a layup. Wilcox has missed the past four games with a dislocated right pinky. Still waiting on Luke Ridnour who is also supposed to play tonight.

EARLY SWITCH --- Carlesimo rotated Green on Bryant. It hasn't helped. Bryant drained a long jumper over the rookie. Expect to see at least four players (Damien Wilkins and Delonte West) try to slow down No. 24.

EARLY INDICATOR --- Lamar Odom took it hard at Nick Collison, obviously not fearing Collison or Thomas can block his shot. On LA's third possession, Byrant pumped faked Durant into a silly foul. It was a rookie mistake.

KOBE EXPLOSION --- During his pre-game address with the media, coach P.J. Carlesimo said he was fearful of Bryant going off for one of those dynamic games. With Bynum out and the team tired in the second game of a back-to-back set, Bryant may feel the need to scored 50 points.

NO BYNUM --- Lakers C Andrew Bynum sprained his left knee Sunday night and will miss the next eight weeks, which is good news for the Sonics.

NATIONAL ANTHEM --- I don't normally get excited about the national anthem, but Thelma Houston belted out a nice rendition. Houston is a personal favorite with old-school hits such as "I Will Survive" and "Don't Leave Me This Way."

STARTING LINEUPS
LA LAKERS
F -- Lamar Odom
F -- Luke Walton
C -- Kwame Brown
G -- Kobe Bryant
G -- Derek Fisher

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Nick Collison
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

Officials: Tom Washington, Sean Corbin and Leroy Richardson

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January 13, 2008 5:41 PM

Two in, two out

Posted by Percy Allen

After taking Saturday off, the Sonics returned to the Furtado Center this morning for a spirited workout even though they were a little shorthanded.

When the media entered the final 20 minutes, F Nick Collison and C Kurt Thomas (left tendinitis strain) were on the sideline. Coach P.J. Carlesimo said Thomas went about 20 minutes before sitting down. He also said Collison had a hip-pointer, although the PR staff will list it as a right quadriceps strain.

That's how it goes with this team. On the day when Chris Wilcox (right dislocated pinky) and Luke Ridnour (left sore quadriceps) return to practice, they could lose two players.

Methinks Thomas will continue to start, but Collison is officially listed as game-time decision. Carlesimo said if Collison were healthy then he'd likely start and Wilcox would come off the bench. The coach doesn't rush injuries and he's always erred on the side of caution. If both players are equally limited, then he just might toss a coin to decide who starts.

Wilcox will not wear a brace or anything like that and will simply tape his ring finger and pinky. He said he's still in pain, but the time off has allowed him to recover from his nagging leg injuries. He's got a tough matchup in Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom and may not play more than 25 minutes because his conditioning isn't what it should be.

As for Ridnour, well, it remains to be seen how Carlesimo will handle his three point guards. Most likely, Earl Watson will start and Delonte West will slide to 2-guard as a backup to Kevin Durant. This will likely affect Damien Wilkins minutes since Wally Szczerbiak is Jeff Green's understudy.

Carlesimo spoke at length about re-igniting the running game, which has been stagnant lately. He said Ridnour could help, but chose not to throw Watson and West beneath the bus.

Still, it's becoming obvious that Carlesimo favors a quick PG to run his Paul Westhead offense, which relies on transition points and pushing the ball on defensive rebounds. Watson and West are better in the halfcourt. Watson is a good manager of a team with a streaky three-pointer, while West can create shots for himself better than he can create for others.

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January 11, 2008 7:49 PM

Dallas game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

GO HAWKS: Fans are leaving the building with the Sonics down 88-67. As they pass the press table, some are screaming "SEAHAWKS" or "Go Hawks!" in anticipation of tomorrow's playoff game. The Mavs, meanwhile, are shooting 40.3 percent and winning --not an easy feat in the NBA.

POOR SHOOTING: Neither team is really shooting that well, but the Supes shooting 33.3 percent from the field is not helping. The starters aren't generating anything. Durant has 10 on 3-for-11 shooting while Watson just checked out with four points on 2-for-9 shooting and just one assist. The Mavs are shooting 38.3 percent from the field and lead 66-48 at the end of the third quarter.

BOO!: I thought no halftime performance could get worse than this trombone guy that played to an array of music while dancing badly, but in this area the Supes actually topped themselves. They brought out this horn guy that wore 28 horns strapped to his body and tried to amuse the crowd with his flashback sounds. Everyone booed -- a first for a halftime performance at the Key.

SCORING DROUGHT; The Supes went on a three-minute scoring drought and lacked on the defensive end in the closing minutes of the opening half to fall behind 44-35 at the break. Wally was hot in the second quarter, making all four of his attempts for 10 points. Nowitzki (14) and Howard (12) lead Dallas, which is riding a five-game win streak.

KITNA SIGHTING: Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna is in the crowd, too.

MINI RUN: The Supes bench has helped the team go on a 7-0 spurt to pull within 28-27 of the Dallas lead in the second quarter. Wally Szczerbiak capped the stint with a three-pointer.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: It's Damien Wilkins' birthday today, he's 28. Want to know how the day started? At the dentist office having gum removed from an impacted wisdom tooth. Nice. "it's been a while since I've been in that type of pain," he said.

A LITTLE PEP: Seems Johan Petro is continuing his solid play in the absence of Wilcox. The Supes only trail 18-16 at the end of the opening quarter and Petro sent a nice message to Nowitzki, giving him a hard foul when the German tried to float into the lane for a layup. Only problem was Petro apologized to Nowitzki afterward. Somewhere in Florida Danny Fortson is shaking his head.

DOWNTOWN: Downtown Freddie Brown is in the house, sitting courtside with family. Slick Watts was here, too, but his grandson demanded to go home during pregame, so they left early. Sonics are up 10-8 in the first quarter.

WILCOX OUT: Weezy is going to spend at least one more game on the sideline healing his right pinkie. It's his shooting hand and he feels pain when he catches and shoots. Wilcox is hopeful he'll be able to return for Monday's game against the Lakers. Team could use him tonight against a tough Dallas squad, though.

Here are tonight's starters and officials:

Sonics
F Jeff Green
F Nick Collison
C Kurt Thomas
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Mavericks
F Josh Howard
F Dirk Nowitzki
C Eric Dampier
G Eddie Jones
G Devin Harris

The officials are Joe Forte, Derrick Stafford, and Sean Wright.


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January 10, 2008 10:27 AM

Road trip disaster

Posted by Percy Allen

Aside from two spirited quarters (the first and the fourth) in Phoenix, the Sonics hardly competed during this four-game road trip that ended last night in New Jersey.

It's not looking good folks, but then you already know that.

You'd think that emotions would be high and morale would be low, but surprisingly it's not. The players are an an even-keeled group and almost nothing like their coach P.J. Carlesimo, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Say what you will about his tactics, you can't doubt Carlesimo's passion.

Watching these games, however, you can doubt the player's passion. Carlesimo said his group has "lost its passion and enthusiam."

He also threatned changes, but that could just be a threat. He did this before and didn't do anything.

Not sure what he could at this point. Chris Wilcox is coming back, but Nick Collison is playing his best stretch of basketball and it might be unwise to remove him from the starting lineup. Collison, as we all know, isn't going to score 18 points - as he did Wednesday - every night and Wilcox can give the club an energy boost. Still, Collison has grabbed at least 11 rebounds in the past five games and that's not Wilcox's forte.

My guess is Carlesimo was threatening Earl Watson. If Luke Ridnour is finally healthy, don't be surprised to see a change at point guard. Since his season-high 20-point explosion last week at Phoenix, Watson has taken a severe dip.

Also, rookie Jeff Green is showing his offensive warts. Again, what can Carlesimo do. Start Wally Szczerbiak. The sharp-shooter would like that, but Green needs playing time. He'll likely get another 10 starts before the team makes a move there.

Don't look for chairman Clay Bennett to spend some of the $10 million on a 10-day free agent even though that wouldn't be a bad move. Not sure adding another player is going to fix anything.

What's disturbing is the lack of cohesion on the court between Green and Kevin Durant. If they're the future of the team, then they need to begin developing a rapport and right now that doesn't exist.

The Sonics remained in New York last night and will fly to Seattle today. They're not going to practice and hold a shootaround Friday morning. That's when Carlesimo will evaluate Wilcox and Ridnour to determine who much they'll play in the Dallas game.

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January 9, 2008 4:43 PM

New Jersey game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

THAT'S FIVE IN A ROW --- The Sonics picked up their fifth straight loss 99-88. Petro tied a season-high with 22 points. Durant finished with 15, Collison had 18 points and 15 rebounds and Wilkins chipped in 13 points.

TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE? --- With 1:45 left, Damien Wilkins cut the Sonics deficit to 10 (94-84) on a pair of free throws.

LOW TURNOUT --- Announced crowd is 14,101, but it looks much less.

PETRO TRACKER --- The Sonics center needs two points to reach his career high in points. He's got 20.

KIDD TRACKER --- Unless the Sonics make a miraculous comeback in the next few minutes, Kidd is done for the night. He's sitting at the end of the bench laughing with Jefferson and it doesn't look like he's playing again. His triple double streak ends at three.

DISAPPEARING ACT --- In three of the past five games, Wally Szczerbiak has scored at least 15 pionts. But tonight he's scoreless in eight minutes. I'm guessing he's bothered by something. Maybe a sore knee. He's palyed heavy minutes lately and could need a breather. If not for Petro (16 points), this game would really be ugly.

THIRD QUARTER --- If it's any consolation, at least the Sonics committed just three turnovers in the period. Apparently Carlesimo said somthhing about ball protection at halftime. Still, they're down 80-65. Collison has 18 points, Durant 15 and Petro 12. But they're no match for the Nets Big Three of Kidd (16 points, 11 assists and five rebounds), Carter (15 points) and Jefferson (28 points).

WHERE'S LUKE? --- Before the game, Luke Ridnour gave a thumbs up sign when asked if he's OK, but he's sitting at the end of the bench in uniform and doesn't look as if he's going to play for the second straight game.

KIDD TRACKER --- He's two-thirds of the way to a triple double. Kidd has 14 points and 10 assists. He needs to work on the rebound though. He's got five and will likely be pulled in a few minutes. Not sure if he needs to play in the fourth quarter because it's looking like a blowout. New Jersey leads 74-57.

STARTERS STRUGLING --- With six minutes expired in the third, Thomas, Watson and Green still haven't given the Supes much of a contribution on the offensive end. The trio has 13 points.

DURANT YANKED --- Carlesimo pulled the rookie with just under 8 minutes left because it seemed as if the coach was upset when Durant failed to rotate and left Jefferson open for a three-pointer.

KIDD TRACKER --- He's got 14 points, six assists and five rebounds in 18 minutes.

DURANT GETS HELP --- The kid has 11 points, while Collison has 11 and Petro has 10. That's a good sign. Collison and Petro are abusing Boone, who isn't much of a defender. Green seems to be laboring offensively for the third straight game. The rookie has just three points on 1-for-3 shooting.

HALFTIME --- The Sonics are down 59-46. This time the offense isn't the problem. Well, not exactly. They've committed way to many turnovers to compete with a team like the Nets. The extra baskets have allowed New Jersey to shoot a high percentage (51.2 percent) from the field.

SLOPPY BALLHANDLING --- Already 10 turnovers for the Sonics, which had 23 in last night's loss. The miscues have led to 13 points.

OUI, OUI --- Not sure what's gotten into Petro, but the reserve center flushed an alley-oop dunk from Watson for his 10th point, which ties his single season high.

MORE ON BEYONCE --- The singer,dancer, actress colored her hair again. She's a brunette now. Maybe this isn't news, but I remember her when she had light brown hair. The new do looks good on her.

KIDD TRACKER --- He's a third of the way there. Just knocked down a three-pointer that gave New Jersey a 39-33 lead midway in the second quarter.

JAY-Z, BEYONCE AND KANYE --- The Izod Arena may not be Madison Square Garden or Staples Center, but the Nets draw some local celebs. Part-owner Jay-Z is sitting courtside next to girlfriend Beyonce Knowles and rapper Kanye West.

NICK AND JOHAN --- The Sonics centers are taking advantage of the Nets weak interior defense. Collison has eight points and five rebounds, while Petro has four points on 2-for-3 shooting.

KIDD TRACKER --- The New Jersey guard is nearly half way to the triple double. He's got eight points, five assists and four rebounds in the first.

FIRST QUARTER --- Former coach and analyste Hubie Brown often talks about the importance of closing out a quarter. It's something that has troubled the Sonics in recent games. Tonight they were tied 21-21 with 2:49 left in the first, but were outscored 9-0 and trail 30-21.

AIRLINE TO ALIGATOR --- The Nets arena received a new corporate sponsor in Izod. The company spent $1.4 million to put it's name on the building formerly known as Continental Airlines Arena. They painted the building red and white and from the outside it looks great. But once you get inside, it's the same old crappy arene that fails to draw fans. They haven't sold out one game this season and average 15,000 fans, which is amazing because they have a Hall of Famer in Kidd, two All-Stars (Jefferson and Carter), they win and they play an exciting brand of basketball.

KEEP AN EYE ON --- Jason Kidd. He's recorded triple doubles in three straight games, which is an amazing feat. The last player to do that was Grant Hill in 1997. The last to get four straight was Michael Jordan in '87. Kidd has a chance to get his fourth straight tonight. He's off to a fast start with five points, three assists and three rebounds.

MUCH ADO --- Durant mild left ankle isn't preventing him from playing tonight. In fact, Durant said he never considered sitting out. He suffered the injury midway in last night's defeat in Cleveland.

STARTING LINEUPS

SONICS
F - Jeff Green
F- Nick Collison
C - Kurt Thomas
G - Kevin Durant
G - Earl Watson

NEW JERSEY
F - Richard Jefferson
F - Sean Williams
C - Josh Boone
G - Vince Carter
G - Jason Kidd

OFFICIALS: Greg Willard, Marc Davis and Pat Fraher

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January 8, 2008 9:16 PM

Storm to help Sonics?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Now that the Storm has been sold to four local women, the question is whether they'll campaign to help the Sonics remain in Seattle. The women want to help, but said they aren't going to be forceful.

'I know that the city, state and public will all be pleased that this deal happened," said Anne Levinson, who's one of the new owners. "It will send a good message. If there's something we can do, we will certainly do that. We were very careful in the way we went about this because the Sonics situation was so fluid, we didn't want to do anything to disrupt that. In our agreement, we were very careful to structure it in such a way that whatever path things took, we could secure the Storm's future, but in doing so, we wouldn't diminish the ability for the Sonics to have a successful future here also."

Meanwhile the announcement caused public officials to litter mailboxes with released statements. City Attorney Tom Carr praised the sale of the Storm to local investors, expressing thanks to Sonics owner Clay Bennett for taking the important step.

"I view this as an incredible act of good faith on Mr. Bennett's part," Carr said. "He could have used the Storm as leverage, but instead chose to help preserve their basketball heritage in Seattle. I hope that this bodes well for the future relationship between the Professional Basketball Club and the City of Seattle."

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January 8, 2008 8:57 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

Not much to say about this one. Really. Wish I had the words to explain it. I never thought Chris Wilcox meant so much to this team, but his absence is very noticeable. They've been blownout in both games without Wilcox.

It's not Nick Collison's fault. He did what he does, which is rebound. Tonight he had 14. But asking him to score 15 or 20 points is asking too much. That's not his game. He can do, but you can't go into game expecting him to do it.

I'm convinced that this team will need to add another scorer, maybe in the draft and I'm not sure if Memphis' Derrick Rose fits the bill. The guy is way too unselfish. He's drawn comparisions to Jason Kidd and Kevin Durant will need someone else on the floor to pick up some of the scoring load.

I don't think this team won't draft O.J. Mayo because of the character issue, but I'm sure they're taking a long look at Indiana's Eric Gordon and even Michael Beasely even though he might play the same spot as Jeff Green and Durant.

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January 8, 2008 4:23 PM

Cleveland game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

IT'S OVER --- Final score: Cleveland 95, Sonics 79. Seattle tied their third-lowest scoring output of the season. Clearly, they've taken several steps backwards in their development. Aside from Durant and maybe Wally Szczerbiak (15 points and 8 rebounds) the Sonics had nobody who stepped up. Disappointing effort.

CHULUPA TIME --- The fans are screaming "Chulupas." One guy just told me that if the Cavs score 92 points, fans are rewarded with the tasty Mexican treat. Cleveland has 90.

DURANT TWEAKS ANKLE --- While shooting a jumper, it looked as if the Soncis rookie came down on a defender's foot and fell to the floor. He limped down the court before the Sonics called timeout. I doubt he'll return. He has 24 points on 10-for-20 shooting and six rebounds.

ANOTHER LOSS LOOMING --- Seattle is down 74-56 heading into the fourth and it would take a miraculous comeback for them to get back into the game. The deficit is the biggest problem, it's the lack of scoring and inability to slow down James who is coming on.

MAKE A POSTER --- Brown had the dunk of his life. Again, you'll see this on ESPN or youtube. He just elevated over Durant and sailed in for a monster dunk. It was amazing.

CRITICAL MISTAKE --- Durant, 6-9, has a consideriable height advantage on Damon Jones, 6-3, and Devin Brown, 6-5. Not sure why the Sonics rookie is floating on the perimeter when he should be in the post and dropping that little baby hook that he's developing. It's times like this that I don't understand what Carlesimo is trying to do.

SPOKE TOO SOON? --- Ok that might change now that West adn Green are back in for Watson and Thomas. We'll see.

BUCKETS TO THE BASKET --- Watch how many plays the Sonics attempt going to the rim. They've become a jump-shooting team. Hardly anyone is going hard to the basket.

LOOKING FOR A SIDEKICK --- Durant is doing it all by himself and it's obvious that he needs help. The kid (and I can call him a kid because he's 19) has taken 18 shots and scored 17 points. Thomas is second with 8.

HALFTIME --- It went from bad to worse to bad again. The Supes began the second quarter down nine and fell behind by 16 (33-17) before mounting a little comeback. They trail 45-33, which ties the season low for first-half points. Green is showing just how green he really is. If he's not scoring in transition, then he's awfully limited. As bad as Cleveland is shooting (37.8 percent) its still hard for Seattle to get their running game going. The Cavs are doing a good job of getting back and protecting the rim and forcing the Sonics to score in the halfcourt.

JAMES SHOWS OFF --- No. 23 has dropped a pair of dunks that you're going to see tonight on ESPN. Makes me wish he'd accept an invitation to the dunk contest along with Dwyane Wade.

THE WEEZY IMPACT --- Without Chris Wilcox, their second leading scorer, the Sonics have yet to receive consistent scoring from anyone besides Durant. Thomas has 8 points so far.

SPURS EX-ASSISTANTS --- Both P.J. Carlesimo and Mike Brown spent time in the San Antonio Spurs organization and in many ways they're using their former team as the model to build their current squads. Defense is the key and Seattle is having great difficulty scoring. They've got just 31 points and need a basket to avoid the lowest scoring half of the season.

ANOTHER SLOW START --- The Sonics trail 24-15 and they're shooting 36.8 percent from the field. Durant is scoreless on three attempts, while James has 10 poitns on 5-for-8 shooting.

AND THEN THERE'S LUKE --- Contrary to published reports, Luke Ridnour's status shouldn't be out indefinitely. Carlesimo said Ridnour felt better today and was going to try and play tonight. He's sitting at the end of the bench and doesn't look as if he's going to play.

WEST AILING --- Coach P.J. Carlesimo wasn't sure if Delonte West would play because "his foot flared up" after Monday's practice in Washington D.C. West checked in a few minutes ago and he appears fine.

STARTING LINEUPS
SONICS
F - Jeff Green
F - Nick Collison
C - Kurt Thomas
G - Kevin Durant
G - Earl Watson

CLEVELAND
F LeBron James
F - Drew Gooden
C - Zydrunas Ilgauskas
G - Sasha Pavlovic
G - Larry Hughes

OFFICIALS: Bennett Salvatore, Jason Phillips and Leroy Richardson

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January 7, 2008 10:16 PM

Storm sold

Posted by Jayda Evans

Learned that Sonics owner Clay Bennett sold the Storm and it will be announced at an 11 a.m. press conference on Tuesday. This can be taken two ways for the Sonics, but I'm guessing it's another clue that the team is off for Oklahoma City. One source alluded to Bennett beginning to feel the money drain from legal battles and the faulty KeyArena lease, selling off the Storm for quick cash. The Sonics move under a bigger microscope now, that's for sure.

Heard plenty of rumors tonight about potential owners. Some feel former Sonics president/owner Wally Walker and/or part of the Howard Schultz group that didn't want to sell is resurfacing. Included in that bunch could be Jack Rodgers, Schultz's close friend. When I asked Rodgers about buying the team last summer, hr laughed the question off and said all efforts should be behind supporting Bennett in keeping the teams local.

Well, WNBA teams have sold from $10 to $12 million. That could be a version of "backing" Bennett.

The Storm's new ownership group appears to have multiple members and one is believed to be a woman.

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January 7, 2008 5:43 PM

Shinn denies interest in Oklahoma City

Posted by Percy Allen

In response to a Seattle Times story, New Orleans Hornets owner George Shinn told the Times Picayune that he has no interest in moving the team to Oklahoma City.

Still some aren't convinced. In this story in The Oklahoman mayor Mick Cornett said: "I don't think they ever wanted to leave. So if he does want to come here, I don't think that's a new thought. I would just assume that nothing has changed. They went back hoping it would work in New Orleans. It doesn't seem to be working. But their first instinct was to play here anyway."

Here's the Times story that Shinn referred to.

The NBA points out the distinction that no market "belongs" to any team, but rather they're only reviewing the Clay Bennett's application to relocate to Oklahoma City. Still, no other team can make a claim to the city until Bennett's case is decided.

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January 7, 2008 3:56 PM

Heads-up: Allen's take on Sonics

Posted by Jayda Evans

Saw this on Brier Dudley's blog for our newspaper. Blazers and Seahawks owner Paul Allen talks a little Sonics arena situation, damping the hope fellow billionaire Steve Ballmer steps in to save the Sonics and Storm.

In watching both of Allen's teams win this weekend (and hearing and reading all the hoopla about both this fall, too), it seems Allen would be the last person to want the Sonics to stay. Think of the millions more he could make if they left? Yeah, those still rooted to Seattle would drink water from Green Lake without a filter before they cheered for the Blazers, but that population will turnover and the transplants will continue to move in, breeding a whole fan base willing to take the train to see local prospects Brandon Roy and Martell Webster shine.

Those who refuse already said they would thrust themselves into pro football. And Allen already has the hold on that fan base, a bunch so vibrant they're recognized nationally.

It seems the Sonics are in the way of Allen's complete dominance of sports in the Northwest. So, I wouldn't expect him to sound too chirpy anyway.

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January 6, 2008 4:11 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

Just a three-man effort for the Sonics today. Ok maybe four because I wasn't including Kevin Durant, but I guess you have to since he scored a team-high 19 points. Still, he needed 21 shots to get there and eight points came in the fourth quarter when the game was decided.

Only Nick Collison (13 points and 17 rebounds), Kurt Thomas (13 rebounds and 7 points) and Wally Szczerbiak (18 points) really came to play.

Everyone else looked as if they were effected by the early 1 p.m. start (10 a.m. PST) or something else. Coach P.J. Carlesimo said rookies Durant and Jeff Green were adversely effected with playing at home and more than hinted that they weren't properly rested.

Green certainly had an awful game with five turnovers, five fouls and 4-for-13 shooting for eight points.

Delonte West struggled for a second straight game and it's safe to say that the guy is just inconsistent. Before this little mini-slump, he had a season-best performance (19 points and 8 assists) against Boston. But that might have been because he was motivated to play his former team. He followed that game with two strong outings and has since fallen off.

It seemed the return of Luke Ridnour threw him off in Phoenix when West went scoreless and had no assists in 18 minutes. Celtics coach Doc Rivers told me West is somone who "needs to feel love," and he hasn't gotten that this season. Whenever his minutes might get cut or he's in a competition for a spot in the rotation, West hasn't responded.

It's pretty safe to say that Carlesimo's idea to experiment with the point guards was a mistake. No one has really stepped up and all of them have suffered becasue of it. And here's the funny part, Carlesimo didn't rotate the guards as much as he wanted to because of injuries.

If they were healthy, each would have probably started an equal amount of games. As it is, Earl Watson has started 27 games, West four and Ridnour two.

Ridnour didn't play Sunday for the first time since returing from left quad soreness. And with Collison in the starting lineup for injured Chris Wilcox, the bench is weakend.

It's clear that Damien Wilkins hasn't embraced his new role as a reserve. He was scoreless for the second straight game and he's scored just two points in the past three games. On Sunday, he got just 11 minutes, attempted two shots and committed two turnovers.

Finally note: As a favor to the Washington D.C. guys, Carlesimo chose to stay here on Sunday and practice at the Wizards practice facility on Monday before flying to Cleveland for Tuesday's game.

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January 6, 2008 8:02 AM

Washington game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

UNINSPIRED EFFORT --- With the exception of a 29-point second quarter, the Sonics showed little fight in their 108-86 defeat.

NO RIDNOUR --- Luke Ridnour is sitting at the end of the bench and has not played one minute. He's still not 100 percent and has sorness in left quad, but he played 10 minutes in the previous game and seemed fine this morning.

LOSING GROUND --- The Supes were outscored by three points in the third as Washington takes an 84-71 lead into the fourth quarter.Collison had a good period, scoring nine points, but Butler and Jamison are making life miserable for the Sonics. They've got 24 and 17 points respectively.

HALFTIME --- Sonics trail 52-46 after falling behind by 14 in the first quarter. Nice comeback. Szczerbiak did most of the work scoring all 13 of his points in the second period. The defense was much better also.

GREEN SHOWS OFF --- With his mom and family looking down from a suite behind the Sonics bench, the rookie forward drove baseline and flushed a two-hand jam. The dunk drew a loud applause from the dozens of fans wearing green Sonics t-shirts with the "Green 22" silkscreened on the front.

WALLY TO THE RESCUE --- If not for Szczerbiak's 13 points, the Sonics would be lost. They've trimmed thir deficit to 45-42 thanks to the sharp shooter. Everyone else still looks like they're sleepwalking. Szczerbiak is aggressive offensively knocking down 4 of 8 shots.

WAKE UP PEOPLE! --- Slow start for the Sonics who trail 31-17. They've been in DC since Friday, but they look like a team that believes its 10 a.m. on the West Coast. They're shooting 29.2 percent (7 of 24) and they've committed six turnovers.

PROPOGANDA WORKS --- Normally I'm not swayed by a PR campaigns, but the Wizards are pushing Jamison and Butler for the All-Star game and it's pretty effective. I had no idea these two were balling like they are. Jamison and Butler is third among Eastern Conference forwards in scoring at 21.8 ppg. Jamison is first in rebounding and doubles among EC forwards and Butler is third in assists and first in steals.

Not bad numbers. Not sure if they'll convince the fans though. Jamison isn't among the top 10 in fan voting for the All-Star game, while Butler is sixth. Surprisingly, Milwaukee rookie Yi Jianlian is fifth.

STARTING LINEUPS
SONICS
F - Jeff Green
F - Nick Collison
C - Kurt Thomas
G - Kevin Durant
G - Earl Watson

WASHINGTON
F - Caron Butler
F - Antawn Jamison
C - Brendan Haywood
G - DeShawn Stevenson
G - Antonio Daniels

OFFICIALS
Joe DeRosa, Eric Lewis and Rodney Mott

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January 5, 2008 2:48 PM

Practice in DC

Posted by Percy Allen

As expected the District guys (Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Delonte West) commanded a lot of attention from the media hounds after today's practice. Each did an interview with local media. Nothing earth-shattering to report. They're happy to be home and excited to play in front of family and friends.

Durant expects 50 or so on his guest list. West has been through this before so his ticket demand isn't nearly as high. Green received visits from many friends at Georgtown and there's a chance that ex-Hoyas coach John Thompson will attend tomorrow's game.

INJURY UPDATE --- F/C Kurt Thomas didn't practice because of tendinitis in his left knee. He wore street clothes and watched from the sidelines. Coach P.J. Carlesimo didn't seem overly concerned and expects Thomas to start against Washington.

As for F Chris Wilcox (dislocated right pinky), well, he's still back in Seattle and will certainly not play agianst the Wizards. The chances of him flying out for Tuesday's game at Cleveland and Wednesday's at New Jersey is also very slim.


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January 5, 2008 1:55 PM

Ok, here's one for the conspiracy theorists

Posted by Percy Allen

Got a few questions from readers about today's story on the Clay Bennett's ownership group holding exclusive claims on Oklahoma City.

Many are wondering if Hornets owner George Shinn would have any interest moving to Seattle if Bennett is allowed to move the Sonics.

To that I would say, Shinn is a businessman and he'll do whatever is in the best interest of his team. I painted a pretty dire picture of things in New Orleans for the Hornets, but the team has shown some improvements on the business side. I'm told that 54 of 57 corporate suits have been sold. The team expects sellouts for upcoming games against the Lakers and Miami and new minority partner is a New Orleans guy with strong ties to the city.

I'm also told that while Shinn and city officials aren't cozy, he's friendly with the new governor. Not sure what all of this means, but this much I do know. Ticket sales are awful and the TV package is a mess. Teams can't exist very long with profit in those two revenue streams.

There's rampant speculation that the league will broker some type of a swap of franchises either immediately or in the near future. That's possible.

Not sure if many of you saw this, but Times reporter Jim Brunner uncovered a secret meeting between Tim Ceis and Slade Gorton and NBA executives in October. No one will say for the record what was discussed in that meeting, but there's rumors that the Seattle contingent offered to drop their lawsuit against Bennett if the league promised the city a team in return.

In one possible scenario from a Sonics reader, Shinn and Bennett swap teams, which would require Shinn to come up with about $100 million because Bennett bought the Sonics for $350 million and the Hornets aren't valued nearly as high. To make up the difference, he'd need local investors like Steve Balmer, which would futher entrench the team to the community.

This is possible, but things like this don't happen so cleanly in the NBA. It's a little naive to believe problems can be resolved so quickly and without lawsuits and months of negotiations and haggling.

In another scenario, Bennett takes his team to OKC, but leaves the name and history. The city of Seattle seems prepared to unveil a proposal for public/private funding of about $200 million in investments to KeyArena. The project would begin after the Sonics' lease expires in Sept. 2010. The Hornets lease is up in 2014, however, the city can realistically support just one franchise and that franchise will be the Saints. So it allows the Hornets to leave two years early, saving money in the short term because it won't have to build a $20-million practice facility. Seattle wouldn't have a NBA team for a few years, but Shinn would eventually move his team to the Northwest because of its strong fan base.

How about that for flights of fancy? Again, this is all rumors and speculation, but who knows what might happen.

I won't be convinced the Hornets will stay in the Big Easy until the practice facility is built. Until that happens, the conspiracy theorists will run rampant.

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January 4, 2008 8:27 PM

Results of Wilcox's X-rays

Posted by Percy Allen

An X-Ray today in Seattle revealed that F Chris Wilcox didn't suffer any serious damage when he dislocated his right pinky during Thursday's game at Phoenix.

That's the good news.

The bad news? Wilcox isn't likely to re-join the Sonics on their East Coast road trip. Officially, he's listed as doubtful for Sunday and questionable for Tuesday, but realistically he'd need to jump on a plane early tomorrow to be available for Sunday and that's just not coach P.J. Carlesimo's style.

This season if a player isn't 100 percent, P.J. has always erred on the side of caution and taken a slow approach (i.e. Luke Ridnour, Kevin Durant, Kurt Thomas, etc). Missing the game will be difficult for Wilcox who went to school at Maryland has has lots of friends in the area.

There's a chance he flies to Cleveland, but keep in mind the Supes play the next night in New Jersey before coming home.

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January 3, 2008 11:19 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

There's two ways to examine tonight's game. If you're the glass-half-full kind of person, then you can say that the team is maturinng. Heck, many teams will lose to Phoenix this season and this wasn't a bad effort. Especially considering the fact that they fell behind 15 in the fourth quarter and could have been blown out.

Or you're a glass-half-empty person and then you say the Supes played just hard enough to lose with dignity. Keep in mind the 104-96 score is identical to their loss to Boston last week. So Seattle managed to play the teams with the best records in the East and West to narrow defeats.

Not sure I buy that. It was clear that Phoenix got complacent in the final minutes, which aided Seattle's comeback bid. Granted, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green scored some big buckets down the stretch. The rookie combo tallied 12 and 8 points respectively in the final frame, but when Phoenix needed to make a basket they turned to Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire while Durant fumbled away two turnovers.

And therein lies the difference between 23-9 and 9-23. Well there's that and about a combined 100 years of experience, which is something that Sonics do not have. Time, however, is on their side.

Also, if you're thinking about the Sonics in the future, keep Nick Collison in the mix. His offense is limited to shaky short jumper and a deceptive baby hook, but he's a rebounding freak. He had 14 rebounds and 7 on the offensive glass. Whatever the bench looks like in next season, Collison should be a part of it.

And take note of Durant's defensive skills. This is a developing story that began several weeks ago, but late in games, he's defending the opponent's best player. Tonight he was at the top of the key spearheading the defense. Durant took the challenge of defending Nash, the NBA's best point guard, and he didn't flinch. In fact, he more than held his own. If not for the assist to Stoudemire, Nash would have gone blanketed in the final four minutes.

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January 3, 2008 11:14 PM

Wilcox returing to Seattle

Posted by Percy Allen

Forward Chris Wilcox will return to Seattle today to have his right pinky examined by doctors. He'll miss Sunday's game at Washington and will likely not join the team for the remainder of its road trip. Seattle plays at Cleveland on Tuesday and New Jersey on Wednesday.

I spoke with Wilcox afterwards and he didn't sound optimistic.

"We'll see what the doctors say," he said. "Right now, I just don't know. It's discouraging because I hate missing games, but it's up to them. They've got to make the call."

Wilcox missed Monday's game because of a sprained left knee and looked pretty good Thursday in his return. In four minutes, he had four points and three rebounds before the injury.

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January 3, 2008 5:25 PM

Phoenix game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

BLOWN OPPORTUNITIES --- The Sonics had their chances in the final minutes, but committed too many mistakes. Durant made a pair of costly turnovers and Szczerbiak failed to make a proper defensive rotation that led to a critical basket in the final minute. Not a bad comeback, but the Supes fell short 104-96. Durant finished with 28 points. Stoudemire had 34 points and 11 rebounds.

UH-OH --- Unless the Sonics find someone other than Durant, Thomas and Watson to score they're going to lose this game. Even if that mysterious somebody does emerge, it's going to be very difficult to make up 9 points against a quality team like Phoenix. Amazing turn of events. I thought the Sonics were on their way to a 100+ night after scoring 33 in the first quarter, but they trail 72-63 and the offense managed 12 in the second quarter and 18 in the third.

RIDNOUR STEPS IN --- He didn't play in the first half and just got off the bench. The Sonics need him because they might run out of gas and coach PJ Carlesimo wants to play a smaller lineup.

HEATING UP --- Not sure if this pace can continue, but both teams are really running now. Nash is so creative with the ball and he's got wing players who are equally creative. The Suns just aren't converting or else, this game wouldn't be close. Watson has taken over the secondary scoring role. Unless one of the bench guys (Szczerbiak or West) get going, he's going to have to have 30 for the Sonics to have any chance of winning.

A TALE OF TWO QUARTERS --- If I were writing this story now it would go something like that: "It was a good start for the Sonics and a lousy finish." As good as they were in the opening period, they were just as bad in the second. The 20-point lead has all but disappeared. Still, Seattle is ahead 45-43. But the score only tells half the story. Phoenix has found its mojo. Nash is playing like Nash and that's downright scary. He should have more than 4 assists, but others have shot poorly.

iT'S A GAME AGAIN --- Nasth drained a three-pointer to draw Phoenix close. Seattle leads 45-43.

THOMAS BARKING --- The ex-Phoenix Suns F/C had a few words for his former teammates after taking a charge on an Amare Stoudemire dunk. The crowd was really getting into it before the refs made the call. Then Thomas walked to the Suns bench and said "This is what I do." Funny moment.

SUNS RISING --- You knew they were going to make a run and here it is. The Sonics 20-point lead is now 12 (37-25) and all of the momentum is with Phoenix. Seattle's offense has gone south. It has made just 2 of 11 shots in the quarter so far.

WEEZY WON'T RETURN --- Wilcox dislocated his right pinky and will sit out the remainder of the game. The injury occurred midway in the first quarter. Haven't confirmed this yet, but it might have happened when he was attempting a rebound. Anyway, he's out so Nick Collison will likely play major minutes.

AMAZING START --- The Sonids are ahead 33-13. It ties a season-high for first-quarter scoring and two points shy of a season low for a Sonics opponent in the first quarter. The starters have set a fast tone. Durant has has 8, Watson, 7, Thomas 6 and Green and Wilcox each have 4. The Sonics are shooting 40 percent. More amazing is their defense, which has held Phoenix to 20 percent shooting.

ORANGE HEADS --- Since the TNT-televised Portland-Chicago game is going into double OT, you guys probably don't have the feed to the Sonics game just yet. When you tune in, you'll notice the Suns are wearing orange headbands. They should probably get rid of them because the Supes are blowing them out early. Seattle is up 26-11.

BENNETT MAKING THE ROUNDS --- Just ran into Sonics majority owner Clay Bennett. He denied an interview request so I couldn't ask about the progress of the lawsuit, the arena developments in OKC or the Storm coaching search. He did tell me that he's a bit bummed about the Oklahoma Sooners loss in the Fiesta Bowl.

BIG CELEBRATION PLANNED --- The Phoenix Suns will celebrate thier 40th anniversary tonight. Just walked out to the court and they've got a 70s band lined up for the halftime act. On Jan. 22, 1968 the NBA Board of Governors granted Phoenix a franchise. The team began play during the '68-69 season. Here's a story from the Arizona Republic today about Steve Nash and the 40th anniversary

DURANT, WILCOX, RIDNOUR RETURN --- In their last meeting, the Sonics had just nine healthy players because of injuries. But tonight, they'll have nearly a full compliment of players. Durant (left index finger sprain), Wilcox (left knee spraini) and Ridnour (left thigh soreness) are all expected to play. Durant and Wilcox will start after missing a game. Ridnour missed three games due to injury.

STARTING LINEUPS

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

Inactive: Robert Swift

PHOENIX
F -- Grant Hill
F -- Shawn Marion
C -- Amare Stoudemire
G -- Raja Bell
G -- Steve Nash

Inactive: DJ Strawberry

Officials: Ken Mauer, Ron Olesiak and Michael Smith

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January 2, 2008 12:54 PM

Durant honored again

Posted by Jayda Evans

Kevin Durant was named Rookie of the Month for games played in December. The Sonics rookie averaged 18.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 13 games in December. The highlights were his season-high-tying 35 against Milwaukee and showcasing 30 in a win in New York. It is the second consecutive month Durant has won the award.

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January 2, 2008 12:43 PM

Durant returns

Posted by Jayda Evans

Sonics rookie Kevin Durant , the team's leading scorer (19.7) should be in the starting lineup on Thursday against Phoenix. He completed half of practice without the tape and glove protecting his sprained left index finger and the other with, but said his finger feels fine to play.

After practice Durant was seen dunking and taking hard passes while working on his offensive game. He missed his first game of the season on Monday due to the injury because it was too painful to catch balls with the injury and play with the restrictive glove.

Teammate Chris Wilcox, the Sonics' second leading scorer (13.6), did not practice but the move was more to give his sprained left knee an extended period to heal. Coach P.J. Carlesimo said Wilcox was "possible" to play against the Suns. If Wilcox is unable to play, forward Nick Collison, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds in his teammate's absence on Monday, will continue to start.

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