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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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