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

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March 31, 2008 6:39 PM

April Fools prank?

Posted by Percy Allen

The Seattle advertising agency WongDoody has organized an 11 a.m. press conference at their office to announce a group called B2 Inc. plans to build a new privately financed downtown sports entertainment and exposition facility.

A spokeswoman for the agency reached this evening said this is not an April Fools prank. Still she declined to give any specifics other than what is in a vague press release.

She would not say if the building is a multi-purpose arena or a basketball specifc arena that could hold the Sonics, however, Brian Robinson, co-founder for Save Our Sonics, said the building is a possible alternative to KeyArena.

"We're thrilled that there are multiple options emerging," he said. "We need to look at each one them and it's just further proof that there are other options here for Clay Bennett and the NBA to explore."

There's rampant internet speculation that former Sonics great Fred Brown is one of the individuals involved with the project. Stay tuned.

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March 31, 2008 6:00 AM

NBA Power Rankings

Posted by Percy Allen

Each week we take a look at the NBA and rank the teams in order every Monday morning. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

Rank

Team (Previous rank)

Comment

1.

Boston (1):

Four wins away from the best turnaround in NBA history. Doc Rivers needs to consider resting the Big Three during their final nine games when they play just one team with a winning record. They can clinch the best record in the NBA and home court advantage throughout the playoffs with two more wins.

2.

San Antonio (5):

Look who's at the top of the Western Conference standings again. Remember that four-game losing streak a few weeks ago? Didn't think so. They've won seven straight. Remember Damon Stoudamire? Didn't think so. He's played just 21 minutes in the past seven games and is buried on the bench behind Jacque Vaughn. Oh yeah, and remember Brent Barry? He's back.

3.

Detroit (8):

The Pistons are too much of a veteran team to believe in statement wins in March, but Friday's victory against Cleveland was huge. LeBron James has terrorized Detroit in the past, but the league's leading scorer finished with just 13 points, which was his second lowest this season.

4.

New Orleans (2):

Face it folks, they aren't going anywhere. And this week, they have sure-fire wins against Miami and New York that will keep them at the top of the standings.

5.

Utah (4):

They're phenomenal at home, but they're also the only team among the top six in the West with a losing road record. Sunday's loss at Minnesota makes no sense.

6.

LA Lakers (3):

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum can't return soon enough. Jot it down. Kobe Bryant will pick up another technical foul, which will force a one-game suspension. As for the MVP award, Kobe is the best player and it's unfortunate that he's never won the trophy, but that doesn't mean he should win it this year. Kevin Garnett and Chris Paul are just as deserving.

7.

Phoenix (6):

Shaquille O'Neal blasts Miami. "We have professionals who know what to do.No one is asking me to play with Chris Quinn or Ricky Davis. I'm actually on a team again." Pat Riley shoots back: "He didn't want to play for that kind of situation (at) 35 years old. He wanted to go to a contender and we sent him there. We sent him to Utopia and I don't know why he's not happy."

8.

Washington (7):

It must be fun covering a guy like Gilbert Arenas. If you hadn't seen it already, check out his latest blog entry at NBA.com. Not sure if it's comical or disturbing. Or maybe it's just Gilbert being Gilbert. To top it off, he says he's willing to take a pay cut if the team re-signs Antawn Jamison.

9

Houston (9):

For some reason Tracy McGrady plays better on the road (26.4 scoring average) than at home (18.1), which is a good thing because their next four games are on the road.

10.

Denver (13):

George Karl says naysayers questioning his job security is expected. "I don't think it has anything to do with this year. Between the fourth and fifth year with a team is where the honeymoon and the criticism and the posses begin. I've had a great 3 1/2, four-year run of love and affection. And you can't have it forever. The fan is fantastic. But there's always going to be a part of fans that are against you. And there's going to be a part of those fans that are going to love you to a fault."

11.

Orlando (10):

They had their streak of 10 games in which they have at least 10 three-pointers snapped in last week's loss to San Antonio.

12.

Golden State (12):

Is it just me or does Davidson's Stephen Curry look and play like a young Monta Ellis? Chris Webber calls it quits, ends nine-game comeback attempt and retires after 15 years in the NBA because of chronic knee soreness. As for whether he's a Hall of Famer, well, the short answer is no. But that shouldn't diminish an amazing career.

13.

Cleveland (14):

Can we end the LeBron James MVP talk right now? He's out of the race and there's little that he can do to get back in it. The Cavaliers should be more concerned with holding off Washington for the fourth playoff spot and home court advantage in the first round.

14:

Philadelphia (11):

Don't be surprised if they streak past Toronto and Washington in the standings and make a run at Cleveland for home court advantage in the first round.

15.

Dallas (15):

Maybe it's sadistic, but I want to see the look on Mark Cuban's face if if the Mavericks don't make the playoffs. Nobody does disappoint like Cuban. Wonder if he'll go on a firing spree? Will he blow up the roster? Without injured Dirk Nowitzki, they'll need the J-4 crew (Jason Kidd, Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse and Jason Terry) to keep them in the race.

16.

Atlanta (17):

The Hawks are playing their best basketball of the season - 8-4 in the past 12 games - and a win tonight at Memphis would give them a 2-game lead over New Jersey for the eighth place in the playoff standings.

17.

Toronto (20):

Heck of a week. Two changes in the starting lineup, a new guy (Linton Johnson) in on a 10-day contract and the end of a Derrick Martin's not-so illustrious career. T.J. Ford replaces Jose Calderon and Rasho Nesterovic steps in for an ineffective Andrea Bargnani.

18.

Indiana (18):

Not sure what Larry Bird has done to deserve the GM job. He approved the trade to Golden State involving Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington and Mike Dunleavy. He also gave Sarunas Jasikevicius a three-year, $12M contract. Jasikevicius is no longer in the NBA. Said Bird: "I've been doubted since the first time I stepped on a basketball court, so it's no different."

19.

Minnesota (19):

Memphis' Rudy Gay is the leading Most Improved candidate, but Al Jefferson deserves serious consideration. His rebounding average (11.5) is the same, but he increased his scoring average (21.0) by five points and made the jump from potential superstar to franchise stud.

20.

Charlotte (26):

Coach Sam Vincent is reportedly on the hot seat after just one season, but not sure if Michael Jordan will fire his former teammate after just one season. Emeka Okafor played in his 84th consecutive game for the Bobcats, breaking the record of 83 set by Melvin Ely.

21.

Portland (16):

Ease up Nate. What's the big fuss about Greg Oden playing in a pickup game? Last I checked, he's a basketball player and basketball players play basketball. Also, don't be surprised if Dwane Casey reunites with McMillan in Portland next season.

22.

Sacramento (21):

Ron Artest isn't expected opt out and wants to return next season, which isn't necessarily a good thing for the Kings. They should continue re-tooling and trade Artest, their biggest bargaining chip, for a starting point guard. Not sure why they're still holding on to Quincy Douby.

23.

New Jersey (22):

In their last six home games, they've scored 116.8 on averaged and on the road they've averaged 89.0 since Devin Harris arrived. The former Mavericks guard, who spent four seasons in Dallas, has set or tied career highs in every major category including points (26), assists (15), rebounds (8) and minutes (41).

24.

Chicago (25):

First Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Chris Duhon and now Andres Nocioni rebels against the Bulls establishment. What's going on in Chicago? Nocioni balks on the bench and gets banished to the locker room. GM John Paxson needs to take a hard look at squad he's assembled and make changes this summer.

25.

Memphis (24):

Wasn't this supposed to be Darko Milicic's breakout season? Well the second-overall pick in 2003 is averaging just 7.3 points, a career-high 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, which is 10th in the NBA.

26.

Miami (27):

Cause for concern? Dwyane Wade has played just 315 of a possible 430 games during his career. Also, Alonzo Mourning, 38, sounds as if he'll attempt a comeback after season-ending knee surgery.

27.

Milwaukee (23):

They should be eliminated from the playoffs this week and soon after the season ends coach Larry Krystkowiak will lose his job. This season is not entirely his fault. Former GM Larry Harris deserves much of the blame, but the new GM will likely pick a new coach.

28.

New York (28):

With Donnie Walsh reportedly headed to the Big Apple after the season, expect the rumors about Jermaine O'Neal to pick up steam. Walsh and Isiah Thomas have always been O'Neal's biggest fans and he desperately wants to leave Indianapolis.

29.

LA Clippers (29):

Elton Brand has been medically cleared and wants to play before the season ends. He also says he wants to return, but didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of opting out his contract to become a free agent. The scarcity of teams with salary cap space suggest he’ll stay in Los Angeles.

30.

Seattle (30):

Derrick Rose's play in the past two weeks has made it a two-man race for the No. 1 pick in draft. Michael Beasley is still the odds-on favorite to be chosen first, but if the Sonics nab the top pick they'll likely take the Memphis Tigers guard.

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March 30, 2008 5:45 PM

Sacramento game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

THIRD QUARTER --- Sacramento ends the quarter with an 11-0 run to take control of the game and a 94-83 lead. The Sonics countered with an awkward lineup of Durant and four reserves including Luke Ridnour, Donyell Marshall, Wilkins and Francisco Elson. The squad basically looked at Ridnour to create and once he found the middle clogged, the kicked it out to Durant who hurried some long shots with the clock winding down. Meanwhile, Artest hammered them in the middle.

COLLISON STRUGGLING --- He's played 14 minutes and seems to be laboring against the length that the Kings have. Collison has just two poitns and two rebounds.

HALFTIME --- Sonics still lead. They're up 65-62. The rookies (Green and Durant) are leading the way and each has 15 points. The supporting cast of Watson (9 points and 7 assists), Wilkins (9 points) and Petro (8 points and 5 rebounds) aren't bad either.

FIRST QUARTER --- The Sonics shot 63.6 percent from the field and lead 39-34. The Kings have provided little resistance and Durant (10 points), Green (8 points) and Petro (8 points) are the beneficiaries. Green is 2 for 3 behind the arc against Artest, which is a good matchup for him.

COACHING POINTS --- Kings coach Reggie Theus and screaming at his guys to get back on defense. "They're going to be running up our backs all night," he said. The Sonics don't have any fast break points, but they're taking advantage of the Kings' weak transition defense and getting open looks early in the shot clock.

STARTING LINEUPS

SACRAMENTO
F -- Ron Artest
F -- Mikki Moore
C -- Brad Miller
G -- Kevin Martin
G -- Anthony Johnson

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Nick Collison
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

Officials: Dan Crawford, Rodney Mott, Tommy Nunez, Jr.

PRE-GAME NOTES --- P.J. Carlesimo said Earl Watson is not 100 percent healthy because of a finger and calf injury. Despite the injuries, Watson will remain in the starting lineup.

Carlesimo also acknowledged that Johan Petro's play has dipped lately. What's most telling is Petro is picking up fouls very quickly. He's been limited in the past two games to 20 and 18 minutes respectively because he was in foul trouble.

Also, spoke with Damien Wilkins who has put up steady numbers now Mickael Gelabale is out for the season and he's getting minutes again. Wilkins has scored in double figures in each of the past five games.

Sacramento Kings center Spencer Hawes stopped by the Sonics locker room to say hello to his friend Kevin Durant. Hawes, the former Seattle Prep and UW standout, has a spraned left ankle and will not play tonight.

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March 28, 2008 6:45 PM

Bobcats game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

NO GO: The ball went to KD with Wallace guarding him. The rookie turned around to attempt an awkward three and missed at the hoop. Ridnour hit a layin at the buzzer after a made free throw at the other end, but the Sonics lose 96-93.

LOOKING FOR THREE: The Sonics are down 94-91 with 9.6 remaining in the game. They'll have to hit a three in order to hope to win in overtime. Only Wilkins, Ridnour and Marshall have hit from voutside tonight.

ON YOUR FEET: Everyone is standing waiting to see what's going to happen in the final 47 seconds. Well, Watson just turned the ball over and trails by one point. There's 10 seconds on the clock and the Bobcats just called a 20 second timeout.

TAKE THAT: Marshall is taking a stance in this game, hitting a three-pointer to give the Sonics a 87-86 lead and then on the immediate defensive possession, blocking Okafor's shot to get a jump ball call. Folks are on their feet screaming for free T-shirts and celebrating the defensive pressure -- a fav in these parts.

PETRO'S FIFTH: Carlesimo warned of foul trouble causing the most problems as the Sonics finish the season without Wilcox. Petro already has five and the Sonics could use his play inside. But Marshall is playing well, posting seven points and six boards in 20 minutes. He just replaced Petro in the lineup and the Supes are down 83-80.

THOSE THREES: J-Rich and Wallace just hit three-pointers to take back the game, 82-79. There's 9:16 remaining in the matchup.

ADDING VOLTAGE: Watson has got the Sonics rolling in the second half, hitting a diving layin at the third-quarter buzzer to give the Sonics a 76-72 lead. The Supes' reserves are outscoring the Bobcats bench 26-8 and Watson is at the helm of the action. Green and KD are also contributing.

HALFTIME: The Sonics shot 53.8 percent in the opening half, but the Bobcats are having their way inside (28-18) and lead 55-53 at the break. J-Rich (16), Felton (14), and Okafor (13) are leading the way. The Sonics held the Bobcats to 17 points in the second quarter to get back into the game.

GREEN LIGHT: Green just gave the Sonics the lead, 46-44, on a steal and fast break layin. There's 4:37 remaining before the half and the Bobcats have gone cold with increased Sonics defensive pressure by Donyell Marshall, Nick Collison and Green inside. Damien Wilkins and Luke Ridnour are the backcourt.

DUNK-O-LICIOUS: Bobcats F Gerald Wallace came flying in Vince Carter style to literally dunk on Sonics F Francisco Elson. Even the sparse hometown crowd had to give it up for Wallace. The Bobcats lead 42-32, taking advantage of another lax night in Sonics defense.

SWOOPING IN: Storm F Sheryl Swoopes is watching the game. She's going to run a basketball clinic with Green on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Alderwood Boys & Girls Club in Lynnwood. Swoopes turned 37 on Tuesday.

LOSING AIR: Not only are opponents sucking the life out of KeyArena by winning, they've apparently started taking the Sonics blimp's helium with them. At least Washington did on Wednesday. According to security near the blimp backstage, the Wizards players screwed off the cap of the helium tank, took a swig and went around cracking each other up with phrases like, "I'll [expletive] you up boy!" Funny when you picture a 6-foot-10 dude with a small voice - kind of like Mike Tyson. Word is Gilbert Arenas and the coaching staff was rolling with everyone else as they waited for the team bus to arrive.

WILCOX OUT: F Chris Wilcox was told it would take about six weeks to naturally heal his dislocated right pinkie. Wilcox said he'll still travel with his teammates for moral support and added that if the team wasn't out of contention, he might have went ahead and tried to play like Kobe. Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said the team should be fine for the remaining 10 games (Wilcox has already missed four). The coach is going to use Wilcox's absence to find more playing time for Mo Sene, too.

Here are tonight's starters

Sonics
F Jeff Green
F Nick Collison
C Johan Petro
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Bobcats
F Gerald Wallace
F Jared Dudley
C Emeka Okafor
G Jason Richardson
G Raymond Felton

Tonight's officials are Tom Washington, Leroy Richardson, and Leon Wood.

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March 27, 2008 9:10 PM

Wilcox out

Posted by Jayda Evans

He said he wouldn't do it. But after getting a second opinion on his right pinkie, doctors for Sonics F Chris Wilcox discovered a dislocation and he is out for the remainder of the season. Here's our story regarding the decision.

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March 27, 2008 1:37 PM

Stern ambiguous on Seattle expansion

Posted by Percy Allen

NBA Commissioner David Stern dodged questions this afternoon during a national teleconference call when asked if the league would expand to 32 teams in light of the Sonics likely move to Oklahoma City.

He also declined to articulate how the league justifies leaving a big market such as Seattle for a smaller market, but said cities of comparable size to Oklahoma City have run successful franchises.

Here's a transcipt of the final four questions pertaining to the Sonics during the Commissioner's address.

(Your thoughts on expansion to 32 teams) "I think in fairness to your question, I think what I would like to do is say that in light of the swirling events and the continuing litigation and the to and fro with respect to the Sonics, I'd like to take the opportunity to impose a gag on myself and allow speculation to grow in whatever way is constructive. The one thing I would say is that we'd like to make it clear that the Sonics proposed move is not a question of fan support, but an issue of arena capability and the path by which we got to the place where they issued, where they proposed or applied to move. But I think that our history speaks for itself and depending upon the circumstances under which we depart cities that has something to do with our ability and willingness and speed in returning."

(Regarding Seattle, would you consider expansion to 32 teams?) "It's not tops on our list. There are very strong owner reaction at the present to expansion. But at the same time there's a very strong recognition because of the pressures of revenue sharing that a particular city that we currently have can support a team, we should consider moving them to cities that can. I'm not totally on board with that approach, but it's increasingly gaining some steam among a strong group of owners."

(At a time when you're pushing for a global league, how do you view a possible franchise move to smaller U.S. market) "I'm going to continue my gag. I said what I was going to say out in Oklahoma and I don't want to start, I don't want to get specific here either other than to say that one of the things that we've done at the league and tried successfully to do is find a way of operating in our league through collective bargaining (inaudible) that would support a team that was well managed in markets the size of San Antonio, Memphis, Orlando, Portland, Salt Lake City. In most cases single team franchises, single sport cities really so you can understand that's not a subject that scares us."

(There seems to be a pattern in how the owners have voted in the past three relocation applications, with two being unanimous and the other being 28-1. What do you make of that pattern?) "I don't make anything of its. I didn't remember it until you told me."

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March 26, 2008 10:36 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

If the Sonics slow down Roger Mason, they win this game. Instead, he scored 17 of his 22 in the fourth quarter and drained a career-high tying six three-pointers. Here's the Associated Press story.

It seemed so easy on the sidelines that the Sonics needed to assign Kevin Durant to Mason rather than Damien Wilkins. But Durant said afterward that even if he were assigned to Mason, he might not have stopped him the way he was shooting.

Maybe the kid is right. Mason sank all five of his three-pointers in the fourth.

Still this was a lost opportunity. Midway in the third quarter when the Sonics had a 17-point lead I had a wrote the top half of my game story applauding their newfound defensive wizardry and questioning how silly the questions were a week ago about how this team had quit on the season.

Needless to say, none of that will make it in Thursday's story. Still it doesn't appear as if the team has quit on the season. At least not everybody. Earl Watson probably shouldn't have played because of a right calf contusion, but he gutted it out.

Not sure about Chris Wilcox, however. He visited a hand specialist to look at his sprained right pinkie and will talk with his agent Jeff Schwartz tomorrow and could shut it down for the final 11 games.

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March 26, 2008 4:55 PM

Washington game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

IT'S OVER --- Sonics lose 104-99.

MASON SMOKING --- Mason has drained his third three-pointer of the period to bring the Wiz back into the game. The Sonics have to figure out what to do with Luke Ridnour. Every time he comes off a screen, the Wiz are trapping him and causing havoc.

THIRD QUARTER --- What a great period for the Supes. The surged ahead by 17 points (73-56) but went cold in the final minutes. Still they're up 75-68.

NICE APPLAUSE --- For Jim Zorn, the former Seahawks quarterback coach who took head coachhing job in Washington.

PULLING AWAY --- Green sank a hook shot that put the Sonics up 69-56.

HALFTIME --- The Sonics lead 56-50. Durant has been spectacular. He has a game-high 16 points and Damien Wilkins has chipped in 11. The crowd has grown a bit. Maybe it's up to 10,000, but I doubt it. Depsite the small numbers, it's a loud an enthusiastic crowd.

REBOUND DISPARITY --- The Sonics have 26 boards and Washington 14. Collison has nearly outrebounded the Wizards. He has 12.

FIRST QUARTER --- Washington leads 29-23 after 12 minutes. Stevenson has a game-high 11 points followed by Durant (8). Collison has seven rebounds.

SLOW START --- The Sonics trailed 11-4 before getting back inito the game and pulling to within 21-18..

EMPTY HOUSE --- There's no more than 8,000 people here tonight. It's going to be a sparse crowd and perhaps a harbinger of next two years if the team is forced to honor its lease.

ODD PAIRING? --- Microsoft mogul Steve Ballmer just entered and he's sitting courtside between the Washington Wizards bench and KJR-AM talkshow host Mitch Levy.

STARTING LINEUPS

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

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Nick Collison
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

Officials: Jim Clark, Eric Lewis and Jack Nies

PRE-GAME NOTES --- Chris Wilcox will not play. He visited a hand specialist and will sit down with the trainers tonight to decide when and if he'll return.

TNT is in the building interviewing fans for a story that will run April 3.

After Friday's game, Kevin Durant and newly signed Storm Sheryl Swoopes will conduct a basketball clinich in which they'll share basketball tips and answer questions from fans.

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March 26, 2008 2:59 PM

Trash Talk

Posted by Jayda Evans

Jayda Evans: I can't believe all of the controversy over April's Vogue issue with LeBron James on the cover. Most seem offended, including Los Angeles Sparks owner Kathy Goodman, who called it "animalistic." FYI, the team's co-owner Carla Christofferson is featured inside. ESPN made a big stink about it, but as a longtime subscriber of the magazine, I just don't see the problem. What was your take?

Percy Allen: I got an early peak at the Vogue cover and in all honesty, I didn't give it a second look. My first thought was, 'Ok here's a basketball player in athletic gear with a basketball in one hand and a supermodel in the other.' No big deal, right? Wrong. This cover is wrong for so many reasons. For starters, it's simple and unoriginal. It's offensive because it perpetuates the age-old negative image of an angry dark-skinned black man manhandling a beautiful fair-skinned woman, reminiscent of the early King Kong movie, isn't it? And why is he yelling?

Evans: It's a fashion magazine! Why can't he yell at the camera in excitement? And you're going to tell me LeBron doesn't yell on the court? Please. I'd agree with you if more black athletes featured outside of sports magazines were always topless or looking live savages, but this is not one of those instances. LeBron has been on at least four covers this season, twice in suits and twice in athletic gear. He was on the cover of Fortune magazine smiling in a suit so why can't he have a little fun with supermodel Gisele Bundchen on the cover of Vogue? He's marketing his own athletic line and accentuating the point of this particular issue -- shape. I also read in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he doesn't have a problem with the shot. We shouldn't, either.

Allen: This is bigger than LeBron James. It really is. This is about Charles Barkley who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated bare chest and shackled in chains. This is Ricky Williams who appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine in a wedding dress. You would think that somebody as image conscious as James would know better than to do something like this. Or at least somebody in his crew should have had the guts to tell him how controversial this cover would be. And you mean to tell me this shot was the best that famed photog Annie Liebovitz could come up with it? She's better than that.

Evans: Comparing this shot to the ones of Barkley and Williams is comical. It wasn't Liebovitz best work, in my opinion, but she does themed photography, which is what this is.(Also note that Seattle's own Apollo Ohno is featured by Liebovitz inside). It wasn't as sensationalized as you're trying to suggest by bringing up Barkley and Williams. Those were done in a different time for America. We really need to move on and allow a person like LeBron, who does care about his image, to have a little fun with it, too. Michael Beasley is screaming at the camera on the cover of Slam, do you have a problem with that, too? By clouding the issue we're missing the point -- a black basketball player was featured on multiple covers outside of the traditional sports magazines freely projecting his multifaceted personality. It's progress, not regression.

Allen: I'm all for progress, but when we don't remember our history, tragically we repeat it. Maybe James and some folks are too young to realize what kind of an impact a photo like that would produce. Like I said earlier, I didn't give it a second glance the first time I saw it, but that doesn't make it less controversial. And more than likely that was the intent all along.

Evans: True, it's extremely important to know our history and learn from it. In a sense, I'm glad this cover brought up this debate with people. It's makes you think, which is always a good thing. Until next time -- Peace.

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March 25, 2008 9:49 AM

Stern and relocation committee visit OKC

Posted by Percy Allen

Commissioner David Stern and the relocation committee that's going to make a recommendation on Clay Bennett's bid to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City are visiting the Sooner State today.

Before their arrival, the OKC City Council unanimously approved a preliminary 15-year lease agreement with the Sonics, contingent on the team's proposed relocation.

Here's the Associated Press story.

On Monday, Bennett's spokesman confirmed a report that the Sonics chairman told major sponsors he's willing to leave behind the team's name, history, colors and logo if he can free himself from the KeyArena lease. Read our story here.

And finally, TNT is in town this week filming for an upcoming report about the Sonics situation. They are interviewing several people, including the "Save Our Sonics" folks, various fans and will attend Wednesday's game.

***UPDATE 4:35 p.m.*** The Oklahoman posted a story which says the relocation will likely recommend the move to Oklahoma City. Here's the link.

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March 24, 2008 10:39 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

What a strange game. Here's the Associated Press game story.

The Sonics had no business winning this one because of their injuries and yet, they pull out an impressive victory. The difference was their second-half defense, which hasn't been better this season.

They allowed Portland just 10 points in the third quarter, which is four shy of the team record, and 31 points in the second half, which is a season record. The Trail Blazers shot 13.6 percent (3 of 22) in the third quarter and 26.8 percent (11 of 41) in the second half.

When you play defense like that, then you don't have to score many points. The Sonics were efficient shooting 50 percent from the field and they outrebounded the Blazers 41-35.

It's difficult to determine how much the fans influenced this game. Nearly every Sonic who was asked said they received a boost from the group behind the Portland bench that chanted throughout the game. Only 11,292 were in the building, but it was the loudest crowd of the season.

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March 24, 2008 6:50 PM

Portland game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

IT'S OVER, THE STREAK IS SNAPPED --- Sonics win 97-84.

PULLING AWAY --- Nate McMillan is scrambling to find the right combination. You can tell when he's upset. He just stands tall and simmers. The Sonics have taken control of the game. They are up 90-79 with about five minutes left.

THIRD QUARTER --- Amazing quarter for the Sonics, who held Portland to just 10 points in the quarter. Seattle surged ahead 71-63. The Blazers shot 13.6 percent (3 of 22) in the period. Durant has 20 points.

NERVOUS ENERGY --- There was some concern among Sonics officials how the atmosphere tonight would effect the Sonics. In the first half it may have worked against them, but the team is definitely using it to its advantage in the third quarter. Seattle leads 69-61.

FIRST HALF --- Seattle is behind 53-49. Webster leads everyone with 17 points. Durant and Damien Wilkins have 12 apiece for the Sonics.

PR MISHAP --- Tonight's gamenotes has Mike Wilks on the roster, but everyone knows that Wilks was released last week.

PEACE AND ORDER --- If there was a protest, I missed it. Just another basketball game with about a hundred or so chanting every so often. As for the game, once the Sonics erased an 8-point deficit in the first quarter, it's been a close nip-and-tuck game.

FIRST QUARTER --- Eddie Gill made his Sonics debut and Francisco Elson (sore knee) returned to the lineup. The Supes were on the verge of an early blowout. Damien Wilkins drained a three just before time expired in the period to cut their deficit to 25-21. Webster is on fire. He has 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

FIRST CHANT --- With about 6:50 left in the first quarter, a group of fans near the Portland bench began a "Save our Sonics" chant for a few seconds. The building is more than half filled and there's a considerable number of Brandon Roy, Martell Webster and Nate McMillan fans.

A FRESH FACE --- The Sonics signed point guard Eddie Gill to a 10-day contract. He's 6-0 and has started one game this season for the New Jersey Nets. Gill has played in 32 games for the NBDL's Colorado 14ers.

WHERE'S THE FANS?--- Not sure if the late-arriving crowd is just a sign of tardiness or fans engaged in some sort of orchestrated protest. There's been internet chatter about staging a rally outside KeyArena and fans walking into the building about 10 minutes after the game has started chanting "Save our Sonics." It's about 10 minutes before tipoff and the building is about a quarter full.

BOYS IN BLUE --- There's a noticeably increased police presence inside the building tonight. The team won't say how many extra officers it hired for the game, but I estimate that it's double the number that's at most games. A PR spokesman said the team is aware that there might be a protest and has "taken appropriate measures."

LOOK UP IN THE SKY --- There's a plane circling KeyArena with a banner behind it that reads: Sonics: Belong in Seattle!

STARTING LINEUPS

PORTLAND
F -- Martell Webster
F -- LaMarcus Aldridge
C -- Joel Pryzbilla
G -- Brandon Roy
G -- Steve Blake

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Nick Collison
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Luke Ridnour

Officials: Scott Foster, Matthew Boland and David Jones.

PRE-GAME NOTES --- It promises to be an interesting night with plenty of activity on and off the court.

Earl Watson and Chris Wilcox will play because of injuries.

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March 24, 2008 11:53 AM

Help is on the way/Wilcox out

Posted by Percy Allen

Because Earl Watson is doubtful to play tonight against Portland, Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said the team is expected to sign a point guard to backup Luke Ridnour. Not sure who that point guard will be, but it will not be Mike Wilks.

The coaching staff likes the journeyman guard, however, they signed him to a pair of 10-day contracts this season and if they bring him back, then they would have to sign him for the remainder of the season.

The Sonics have too many unknown variables to make a commitment like that to Wilks.

For starters, the team will learn today how long they will be without Chris Wilcox, who re-injured his right pinkie last week. He's missed the past two games and will not play tonight. He'll also see a hand specialist this afternoon.

Swingman Mickael Gelabale will also see a specialist and will set a date for his knee surgery. Carlesimo said Gelabale's recovery will affect his free agency more than his lack of playing time or unknown potential.

C Francisco Elson (sprained knee) is expected to play tonight and Kevin Durant, who received treatment Sunday on a pair of sprained ankles, is also probable.

And finally, a Sonics PR spokesman said the team is aware that there will be a possible protest tonight and has "taken the appropriate security measures."

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March 24, 2008 6:00 AM

NBA Power Rankings

Posted by Percy Allen

Each week we take a look at the NBA and rank the teams in order every Monday morning. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

Rank

Team (Previous rank)

Comment

1.

Boston (2):

First team to successfully navigate the Texas Triangle in seven years. Sam Cassell may not replace Rajon Rondo in the starting lineup, but he's finishing games.

2.

New Orleans (4):

If they win the West, Chris Paul gets my MVP vote and Byron Scott gets my Coach of the year vote. CP3 is bidding to become the first player in 15 years and just the sixth in NBA history to average at least 20 points and 10 assists (joining Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Tim Hardaway and Tiny Archibald). The Hornets have surpassed last year's win total (39), have the best road record (20-11) in the West and the most wins against the Western Conference (30).

3.

Lakers (6):

Kobe Bryant bolstered his MVP candidacy with wins at Dallas and Utah while the Lakers were without Pau Gasol, who should return this week. Center Andrew Bynum is also expected back in a few weeks. They lost last night at home to Golden State, which sets up a big game tonight in the Bay Area particularly because both teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs.

4.

Utah (5):

Thursday's loss against the Lakers snapped their 19-game home winning streak, which tied a team record and was the second longest in the league in the last six seasons. They're 30-4 home record is the best in the NBA. Coach Jerry Sloan celebrates his 66th birthday Friday.

5.

San Antonio (8):

Manu Ginobili thrived as a starter where he averaged 22.4 points in 22 games, but he's back on the bench for good and Michael Finley returns to the starting lineup. Kurt Thomas also moved back to the bench. The Spurs have never lost more than five games in March since 1998. This year they have six losses. Still, they're riding a three-game winning streak and they have a soft schedule before the playoffs begin.

6.

Phoenix (13):

Raja Bell still hasn't returned since landing on Kevin Durant's foot and spraining his right ankle last Wednesday. With or without him, the Suns' league-leading seven-game winning streak will likely end tonight in Detroit. Amare Stoudemire on the MVP race: "I hear everybody's name mentioned as far as the top players in the league. My name is never up there. It definitely hurts because I put in the work and the time and the effort to be an elite player."

7.

Washington (15):

Gilbert who? The Wiz are playing their best basketball of the season. Since their 1-10 stretch in February, they're 11-4, which includes winning six of the last seven games. Antiwan Jamison is averaging 25.5 in the last 11 games. They're fifth in the playoff standings, just a game ahead of Toronto and Philadelphia, and begin a critcal five-game West coast trip Tuesday at Portland.

8.

Detroit (3):

Rasheed Wallace collected his 11th technical foul on Sunday. He's second in the NBA behind Kobe Bryant's 12. Five more for Wallace and he'll receive a one-game suspension. The Pistons are just 10-7 in their last 17 games and they lost key games to Cleveland and Washington last week.

9

Houston (1):

So much for the 22-game winning streak. They've lost three of the past four games and dropped from first to ninth in the standings. Losing Carl Landry (sore right knee) has been huge. He practices nearly every other day, but complains of swelling and is unable to play. They worked out Dale Davis and is eyeing Loren Woods who is playing in Turkey.

10.

Orlando (7):

They're close to securing just the fourth division title in team history. Dwight Howard leads the league in FT attempts because he's shooting 59.8 percent from the line, which encourages teams to foul when he gets the ball close to the basket.

11.

Philadelphia (11):

Samuel Dalembert is one of 11 players among the qualifiers who average double figures in scoring (10.7) and rebounds (10.2). He has more double doubles (23) than he did last year. Dalembert has also blocked at least five shots in the past three games.

12.

Golden State (10):

Chris Webber isn't likely to return this season, but Baron Davis is a rock. Remember when he was in New Orleans and folks worried that his bad knee made him a medical liability. Well, he's the only Warrior - and I mean that in every sense of the word - to play in every game this season.

13.

Denver (12):

The best news they've received was learning Dirk Nowitzki is out for at least two weeks. Still on pace to finish 49-33 and theyre still out of playoff position and could tie the 1971-72 Phoenix (49-33) as the team with the best record, which missed the playoffs. Nene, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer, could return this season. He's been practicing with the team the past two weeks.

14:

Cleveland (14):

Move over Brad Daugherty, LeBron James becomes the team's all-time leading scorer. James is just 23, which says a lot about how great he is, but it also says that the Cavs obviously didn't have big scorers in their history. James has the longest current streak in the NBA with 48 consecutive games with 20 or more points. Wilt Chamberlain has the record with 126 games.

15.

Dallas (9):

Big test for Josh Howard who must carry the scoring load because Nowitzki (lower left leg injury) is expected to miss at least two weeks. Five of their next seven games are against teams in the Western Conference playoff race. Just 9-8 since Jason Kidd arrived and they haven't beaten a team with a winning record. Avery Johnson's post-game spat with owner Mark Cuban could be harbinger of his demise if they miss the playoffs.

16.

Portland (16):

They took their first major step toward last week to sever ties with injured Darius Miles when they filed a request with the league office to have an independent physician examine the 26-year-old small forward to determine whether his right knee injury is career ending. Releasing Miles gives the team $9 million in salary cap space and opens a roster spot to sign last year's first round pick Rudy Fernandez.

17.

Atlanta (18):

In the last 11 games, Joe Johnson is averaging 28.0 points, 6.8 assists and he's shooting .502 from the field and .543 on three-pointers. They play just two winning teams in their last 13 games so they'll likely beat out New Jersey for the final playoff seed..

18.

Indiana (22):

Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels began their court trial last week for battery and disorderly conduct during a bar fight. If convicted, Tinsley could serve four years in jail and Daniels may get a one-year sentence. Larry Bird may be unsure if he'll return as GM next season, but Jermaine O'Neal knows he wants to leave.

19.

Minnesota (26):

I know they're not this good, but they've won six of their past nine games, which is their best stretch this season. But no one is talking about that after owner Glen Taylor popped off last week and said Kevin Garnett "tanked it" last year when he missed the last five games of the season with a leg injury.

20.

Toronto (19):

Chris Bosh is back, but the losing continues. After Sunday's loss to Denver, he blows up in the locker room and says "The thing that bothers me in the end of the games is (we're) just too hesitant." He's talking about teammates, but he should be talking about himself. The Raptors need a go-to guy in the final minutes and it's not the All-Star forward.

21.

Sacramento (20):

product Spencer Hawes made his first NBA start on Saturday and finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds against Memphis. Kuodos to the Maloof brothers who appeared Sunday on "Oprah's Big Give" show.

22.

New Jersey (17):

Devin Harris continues to play despite an injured right ankle because the Nets are 1/2 games behind Atlanta for eighth place in the playoffs. In past years, Harris' must-wins were against Phoenix and San Antonio. Now it's Chicago and Atlanta. "That's the difference between the East and the West. You gotta love it," he said.

23.

Milwaukee (27):

Retired Brian Winters' No. 32 jersey on Tuesday and on Wednesday they fired general manager Larry Harris, who picked a bad time to ask for a vote of confidence. The Buck had a 162-233 record with Harris as GM.

24.

Memphis (28):

The the only NBA team with seven players 25 years old or younger logging at least 14 minutes per game. Just one game off from last season's pace record-wise, but owner Michael Heisley is hoping his customers understand there is a method to the madness. To attract new customers, the Griz will offer 6,000 Terrace Level season tickets at $10 per game and 500 at $5.

25.

Chicago (21):

Rick Carlisle rumored as the next coach. Wonder if Ben Gordon regrets turning down a five-year, $50 million contract offer last summer. He's averaging 19.5 points, which is about two points fewer than last season.

26.

Charlotte (23):

Heading on the road for a four-game West Coast trip to make room for the North Carolina Tar Heels who take over Bobcats Arena and host Sweet 16 and quarterfinal NCAA games.

27.

Miami (30):

Dwyane Wade (knee surgery), Udonis Haslem (foot surgery) will miss the final month and Shawn Marion (back spasms) is out indefinitely. When Jason Williams and Ricky Davis are your best players and Pat Riley is off scouting the NCAA Tourney then that explains a 54-point outing against Charlotte. The 54 points is the third-lowest scoring game since the NBA adopted the 24-second shot clock in 1954-55.

28.

New York (25):

The Logo "Jerry West" and native New Yorker Donnie Walsh reportedly are the leading candidates to replace Isiah Thomas as general manager.

29.

LA Clippers (24):

The only thing worse than a seven-game losing streak is ...

30.

Seattle (29):

... an 11-game losing streak. If they don't win a game this week, they'll likely lose the rest and tie the NBA record of 23 consecutive losses.

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March 23, 2008 5:13 PM

SOS rally planned

Posted by Jayda Evans

This release is from Save Our Sonics:

Save Our Sonics will hold a fan event before and during the SuperSonics vs. Trail Blazers game on Monday, March 24. The grass roots advocacy group has more than 100 adjacent tickets in the lower bowl for the game.

Save Our Sonics' members will wave signs and lead chants inside Key Arena during the game, demonstrating the characteristically strong support Seattle fans have shown the NBA for the past 41 years. Fans who want to participate can meet the Save Our Sonics crew at Ozzie's Restaurant & Bar (105 W. Mercer Street) for a pre-game strategy session from 5p.m. to 8p.m.

Save Our Sonics released the following statement:
"Seattle has been an outstanding NBA city for 41 years. Our actions at the March 24 game aim to show the city, the league and sports fans across the country what everyone will lose if the Sonics relocate to a smaller market. Seattle fans are considered among the best in the country for all three major sports, but we initially earned our raucous reputation during all those Sonics playoff runs at Seattle Center.

"We hope Seattle fans join us in full force to make Monday's game a playoff-type atmosphere inside the arena. We've also been contacted by a large group of Blazers fans that expressed support for our cause and their desire to keep the I-5 rivalry alive. The Northwest will truly be united Monday in the hope that we see many more years of on-court battles between the Sonics and Blazers. We encourage everyone to chant loudly and get our message across while complying with NBA regulations for appropriate fan conduct.

"In the critical three weeks leading up to the NBA Board of Governors vote on April 17, Sonics fans must remind the NBA and our city leaders how ingrained the Sonics are in our local culture. With Steve Ballmer's generous Key Arena remodel offer on the table, Seattle needs to come together and draw up the final play to win the Board of Governors vote and save pro basketball in our city."


Talking points

-- Seattle set NBA attendance records when more than 39,000 fans crowded the Kingdome for a game in 1979.
-- David Stern is overlooking Seattle's past efforts. Key Arena was actually designed with full NBA supervision and approval in 1994, and Stern lauded it as a model venue for the league after its construction.
-- In the four days following Steve Ballmer's announcement that he will contribute $150 million to a Key Arena/Seattle Center remodel, voters' calls to Governor Christine Gregoire's office ran 97% in favor this arena plan. The city cannot afford to pass up this opportunity to revitalize Seattle Center and keep the Sonics in town.

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March 22, 2008 5:51 PM

Jazz game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

GAME OVER: Honestly, tonight was the most entertaining the Sonics have looked in weeks. But it's still a loss, 115-101. Up next is a seven-game home stretch.

BREAKTHROUGH: After shooting 1-for-11 from three-point range in the opening half, the Jazz just connected on two to take a 10-point lead. A party atmosphere has broken out among the fans and Carlesimo called a timeout to stop the bleeding. Seattle is down 93-83 with 9:24 remaining.

CALLING WILKS: PG Luke Ridnour was just flattened and with Watson out, the Sonics may want to get on the hotline and recall G Mike Wilks. The Supes released him to save a roster spot, thinking they'd need an inside player. The Jazz have taken the lead 85-81 at the end of the third.

FLUSTERED REFS: The Officials are conferencing at midcourt because of a play by Damien Wilkins. KD blocked a Boozer layin and Wilkins grabbed the rebound and threw the ball over the backboard. Collison eventually retrieved it and tossed it ahead to Wilkins, but the Sonics didn't get the ball across halfcourt in time, drawing an eight-second backcourt violation. Boozer then converted on a powerful dunk that made the score 77-76. Whew!

WATSON OUT: Watson left with seconds to go in the second quarter with a right calf contusion and will not return. The Jazz are capitalizing, pulling within 63-61 in the third. It's a 9-2 run.

BLAME UTAH: Now I understand why the Sonics think all of those juggling-ball-multiple-horns-strapped-to-the-body gimmick halftime shows will work -- because the fans here are gobbling it up. It's interesting that a guy can play Gershwin with balls on a piano, but I'd rather pass. Give me a mini-concert or those dogs any day.

STILL LEADING: Utah challenged but Seattle is showing some moxie tonight. They took a 61-52 lead into halftime and are taking advantage of the Jazz's poor shooting (37.3). Watson is impressive with his game-leading 14 points and five assists. His smoothest assist was the bounce pass in between his legs to a trailing KD, who dunked the ball to give the Sonics a 56-47 lead. Durant has 13 points and steady Collison has 10 points and nine boards.

ROLLING BACK: The Jazz a pecking their way back into the game. A play by Boozer decreased their deficit to 49-44. Sonics are fighting hard considering they played last night and are out of the playoffs.

OKAY!: Rapper Lil' Jon is seated courtside. When introduced, though, there was only a slight applause. He's in town for Brewer and CJ Miles' birthday bash after the game. The artist is one of Mo Sene's favorite rappers, too.

MARSHALL OUT: Marshall walked back to the locker room in the opening quarter needing stitches for his lip. He will return, but the Jazz are starting to get more physical. They're shooting 38.7 percent from the field, missing even the easy buckets and you can feel the frustration mounting. Supes lead 45-36.

WILLIAMS BACK: After the Sonics won the opening quarter 34-23, Williams is back in the lineup. No injury was reported. He only played 9:07 of the first quarter, finishing with three points and one assist.

TOUGH CROWD: Jazz fans are starting to boo as the Sonics have stretched their lead to 31-23 behind two buckets by Watson and a Watson steal converted into a Damien Wilkins layin. Part of the Jazz's problem is the abscence of Williams. Ronnie Price replaced him and doesn't have a handle on the offense.

D-WILL OUT: Williams is on the bench grimacing and holding his right hand. No word on the injury.

BLOCK THAT: Kirilenko had a sweet block against KD at the rim. The Russian then baseball passed the ball ahead to Brewer for a FB dunk. The Jazz still trail 19-16 with 5:18 remaining in the opening quarter. The Sonics are rebounding and the Jazz are a little careless with the ball.

HOT NETS: The Sonics continue to shoot well. They're at 62.5 percent and hold an early 10-9 lead. The Jazz are taking a minute to get into the game, but this happened last time the teams met in Utah and the Jazz wound up winning by 21 points.

HUGGING THE ENEMY: F Donyell Marshall just gave a bear hug to the Jazz mascot. Marshall played for Utah from 2000-02.

WILCOX OUT, WATSON IN: F Chris Wilcox and PG Earl Watson spent equal time on the training table, but Wilcox isn't going to play today. He hasn't really tested his right pinkie sprain and wants to get a second opinion about the injury. He could return for the Portland matchup. Watson, meanwhile, said he's had so many injuries and played through them that his tweaked left ring finger is not a problem to deal with. He dislocated the joint when diving for the ball against Phoenix on Wednesday and felt it dislocate when hit against the Lakers on Friday. He said he grabbed his jersey and "popped it back into place."

Here are tonight's starters

Sonics
F Nick Collison
F Jeff Green
C Johan Petro
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Jazz
F Andrei Kirilenko
F Carlos Boozer
C Mehmet Okur
G Ronnie Brewer
G Deron Williams

The officials are Bob Delaney, Luis Grillo, and Olandis Poole.

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March 21, 2008 7:55 PM

Lakers game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

NO TACOS: Watson just scored so there will be no tacos for the sellout crowd. Small victories for the Supes, I guess. They lost their 10th consecutive game 130-105.

NEWBLE PLAYS: Newble just entered the game with the Sonics down 122-99. Everyone is screaming for free tacos, meaning the Lakers have to hold the Sonics scoreless in the final three minutes.

NEW TEAM: The Lakers signed Ira Newble to a 10-day contract today. He was waived by Seattle on Feb. 29 after being acquired via trade from Cleveland.

WATSON BACK: Watson is on the bench with his finger taped, no word on the results of the X-ray. UPDATE: X-Rays were negative and Watson is back on the court.

WATSON OUT: Watson is having his left ring finger X-rayed. He injured it in the third quarter. Supes are down 76-64.

GELLY MISSED: Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo spoke about Mickael Gelabale at shoot-around, saying he felt "terrible" about the injury and that it hurts Gelly because his minutes have doubled (20.5 in past five games) and he's been playing well. "Quality minutes, particularly in the meat of the game, is a good opportunity," Carlesimo said. "Probably more so because of his contract situation and us looking at it him, but also because he was playing well and deserved it. And, forgetting all of that, an injury is an injury. Obviously you don't want to go through something like that."

QUE PASO?: Comedian George Lopez just walked by press row and shushed the crowd giving him shout-outs. He's the only celeb I've spotted outside of the regulars.

BENNETT IN THE HOUSE: Clearly wanting to keep the sponsorship money rolling when he relocates to OKC< Bennett has about 20 people in a third-level suite. Word is the layout is nice.

EASY NOW: C Mo Sene made a nice tip-jam, but when he turned to run up court, he clearly didn't have control of his body and plowed into Sasha Vujacic football style. No foul was called, which irked the Staples Center crowd. Sonics trail 47-33.

OH NO: Odom was all over the place in the opening quarter, stripping rebounds from KD's hands and forming a wall that Green bounced off of when attempting a shot. He finished with 10 points and eight rebounds to lead the Lakers to a 34-21 advantage.

DRIED BONES: So, is it cruel to start off by telling you how I got to soak up the 75-degree weather here in LA? Heard y'all got some rain or something. OK, I'll stop. But it was sweet to experience an actual spring.

Here are tonight's starters

Sonics
F Nick Collison
F Jeff Green
C Johan Petro
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Lakers
F Vladimir Radmanovic
F Lamar Odom
C Ronny Turiaf
G Kobe Bryant
G Derek Fisher

The officials are Joe Forte, Phil Robinson and Scott Wall.

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March 21, 2008 12:09 PM

Wilcox out, Bennett plays swanky host

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Supes just wrapped up shoot-around and F Chris Wilcox did not participate. He will not start tonight. F Nick Collison should replace him in the lineup. Without Wilcox, the Sonics have 10 available players. In case you missed it, Francisco Elson (right knee sprain), Mickael Gelabale (right knee sprain), and Robert Swift (torn right meniscus) are back in Seattle.

Because Gelabale is out for the season, Sonics management is contemplating signing another player to a 10-day contract. But Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said the team probably wouldn't do that until after the two-game road trip. He's hopeful vet Adrian Griffith can provide some minutes, that Wilcox can return for the game against Utah on Saturday, and that PG Earl Watson can stretch out more minutes at SG in the back-to-back.

Owner Clay Bennett and GMs Sam Presti and Scott Perry are on the trip, staying in the same hotel as the team. Bennett is wooing the big-time sponsors invited to LA. He hosted a posh steak dinner in Santa Monica on Thursday and will host the sponsors and their families in a suite tonight at the game.

Watson, and rookie Kevin Durant and Jeff Green attended Thursday's gathering, along with Carlesimo. But Bennett didn't divulge anything more to the group than what he's been saying all along. To paraphrase a source, the team is off to OKC.

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March 20, 2008 11:05 PM

No Gelly

Posted by Jayda Evans

Sonics F Mickael Gelabale will be out for the remainder of the season due to a torn right ACL. You can read more here.

Seattle is in lovely Los Angeles for the first day of spring, only not much positive is springing up for the Supes. Gelly was an aggressive player against the Lakers on Feb. 24, his only matchup of the season against the squad. He had 21 points on 10-for-16 shooting in 32 minutes. But Seattle will be without that jolt of fire as it tries to end its nine-game losing streak.

The odds are against them (when are they not?) as LA just ended the Jazz's home court win streak on Thursday.

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March 19, 2008 6:59 PM

Phoenix game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

THIRD QUARTER --- The story lines have not changed. Phoenix is shooting lights out from downtown (14 of 20) and the Sonics are running the pick n' roll to perfection. It's an offensive show and Seattle trails 84-78. Bell has 20 points, Nash 19 and Stoudemire 15 for Phoenix. Green and Durant have 14 for the Sonics. Petro has chipped in 12.

BELL OUT AGAIN --- And this time it's not a bathroom break. He injured his right leg and needed help to get to the locker room.

FIRST LEAD --- Donyell Marshall gave the Sonics a 78-77 lead on a pair of free throws. Before his freebies, Seatlte hurt Phoenix with pick n' rolls involving O'Neal and Stoudemire. Petro is killing Shaq this quarter in the middle. The Sonics, however, can't stop Phoenix's three-point attack.

WILCOX OUT --- He sprained his right pinkie in the first half and will not return.

HALFTIME --- The Sonics were down by just a point a minute before intermission, but a late Suns rally and now they trail 64-55. Bell has 17 points and Nash 13. Phoenix is shooting 64.1 percent, including an amazing 11 of 13 on three pointers.

STRANGE SUBSTITUTION --- Durant and Watson are back in the game and Wilkins and Green are on the bench. The Sonics scored on thier first possession with this group to cut their deficit to 50-49, however, it puts Watson and Ridnour in the backcourt and moves Durant at the 3.

TURNOVER FRENZY --- Teh Sonics have forced 15 turnovers that theyve turned into 20 points.

SECOND UNIT SHOWS FIGHT --- A lineup of Petro, Green, Luke Ridnour, Nick Collison and Damien Wilkins have cut Seattle's deficit to 38-35. They're doing it with steals that they are turning into points. Nash is being very sloppy with the ball and Ridnour is outplaying him at the moment.

FIRST QUARTER -- The Sonics trail 34-23. The Suns are shooting 60.9 from the floor, including 4 of 6 from the three-point line. Stoudemire leads everyone with eight points and Bell has six. Durant has seven for Seattle.

FALSE ALARM --- Bells on the bench after a bathroom break.

BELL LEAVES THE COURT --- The PR staff have yet to explain why Bell walked to the locker room. He seemed to be ok.

QUICK START --- It seems as if the Suns have been reading the local papers and they're intent on jumping on the Sonics early in hopes that Seattle gives less than 100 percent effort in the second half. Nash is pushing on every opportunity and Stoudemire is being very aggressive offensively.

O' CANADA --- Whenever Nash comes to town, thousands of Canadians flood the border and pack KeyArena. It's no differnet tonight. Not sure what the exact numbers are, but there seems to be about 2,000 folks in the building rooting for the Suns. They are the minority, but they are a vocal minority.

STARTING LINEUPS

PHOENIX
F -- Grant Hill
F -- Amare Stoudemire
C -- Shaquille O'Neal
G -- Raja Bell
G -- Steve Nash

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

Officials --- Ron Garretson, David Guthrie and Bill Spooner

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March 19, 2008 9:16 AM

Lineup shakeup

Posted by Percy Allen

Coach P.J. Carlesimo hinted after Tuesday's practice that he may make shakeup the lineup after tonight's game against Phoenix.

He said reserve center Mouhamed Sene, who was recalled from the NBA Developmental League last week, isn’t likely to make his first start any time soon.

If you haven't read it, be sure to read Steve Kelley's scathing column on the Sonics. I loved this line: "The Washington Generals showed more heart when they used to lose every night to the Globetrotters.
In fact, comparing the Generals to the Sonics is an insult to the Generals. At least the Generals used to chase after the Globetrotters' weave. They lunged for rebounds when the Globetrotters shot free throws with that ball that was tethered to their shooting hand."

Here's the link to Steve's story.

Also, Jerry Brewer's Q&A debuts today so check that out and here's the report from Tuesday's practice.

As for the arena news, Commish David Stern spoke with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN radio yesterday and basically bashed the last-ditch effort to save the team. I don't know how the league can turn it's back on someone like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who is one of the richest men in the country.

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March 17, 2008 6:00 AM

NBA Power Rankings

Posted by Percy Allen

Each week we take a look at the NBA and rank the teams in order every Monday morning. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

Rank

Team (Previous rank)

Comment

1.

Houston (1):

Starting to believe they can win it all because Rafer Alston is playing like an All-Star. He dropped a career-high 32 points to give them a big win over the LA Lakers, their 22nd straight win and the top spot in the Western Conference standings. Eleven behind '71-72 Lakers for NBA best.

2.

Boston (2):

All questions about the Cs will be answered this week as they enter the dreaded Texas Triangle (San Antonio, Houston and Dallas) before visiting New Orleans. Still not sure if newcomer Sam Cassell and Rajon Rondo can co-exist.

3.

Detroit (4):

Their magic number for clinching the Central Division is 5 1/2. Detroit is 27-1 when they score at least 100 points. Tayshaun Prince has started every game (339) in the past four years, which is the most in the NBA.

4.

New Orleans (6):

Owner George Shinn told state officials he's interested in renegotiating for a long-term deal that would ensure the franchise remains in New Orleans for the next 10 years without any exit clauses or attendance benchmarks. But it's unclear if the city want re-do the deal.

5.

Utah (7):

With a win tonight against Toronto, they would win their 19th straight game at home and tie the franchise record for consecutive homecourt wins. The Jazz haven't lost a game at home since Dec. 29. They play 10 more games in Salt Lake City.

6.

LA Lakers (3):

Their latest pair of losses proves how valuable Pau Gasol is. His sprained left ankle will keep him out of the next two games at Dallas and Utah, which could lengthen the losing streak and drop the Lakers from second to seventh in the standings.

7.

Orlando (8):

GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy says they need to get tougher. Guaranteed their first winning season in five years and shooting for first 50-win season since 1995-96 which is possible because which now looks like a given because 13 of the final 16 games are against teams with losing records.

8.

San Antonio (5):

Not buying Bruce Bowen's "I'm a Christian," therefore "I'm not a dirty player" logic. He's the dirtiest player in the NBA, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Spurs' 0-3 road trip last week is a tad troubling. Good thing there's no back-to-back sets in the playoffs.

9

Dallas (12):

They are 9-5 with Jason Kidd, however, every win is against teams with losing records. This week, they host LA Lakers, Boston and Spurs. Dirk Nowitzki moves past Rolando Blackman as the Mavs' all-time scoring leader. Dirk owns every major statistical record.

10.

Golden State (10):

Be sure to check out Friday's game against Houston. Not only is it the game of the week, it could be a preview of a first-round matchup. If the playoffs ended today, they would meet in the postseason. The Warriors are 2-1 against the Rockets this season.

11.

Philadelphia (13):

Suddenly, they've become the team nobody wants to face in the playoffs. They've got a veteran point guard (Andre Miller), a dynamic scorer (Andre Iguodala), a defensive-oriented big man (Samuel Dalembert) and a decent bench.

12.

Denver (11):

Allen Iverson makes his first trip to Philadelphia as a Nugget on Wednesday. Before the Dec. 2006 trade, he played 10½ seasons for the 76ers and is second on the team's all-time scoring list behind Hal Greer. If the Nuggets played in the East, they would be fourth in the conference.

13.

Phoenix (15):

The Suns get a couple of more tuneup games this week (Portland and Sonics) before facing Houston, Detroit and Boston. Shaquille O'Neal was perfect (7-for-7 shooting, 17 points) in Saturday's rout over Sacramento.

14:

Cleveland (9):

LeBron James will appear on the April cover of Vogue, joining actors Richard Gere and George Clooney as the only men to do so in the magazine's 116-year history. Zydrunas Ilgauskas returns after a seven-game, two-week layoff.

15.

Washington (19):

Gilbert Arenas plans to undergo an MRI on his surgically repaired left knee on Tuesday and if he results are positive, he wants to return on Wednesday.

16.

Portland (16):

Rookie Greg Oden practices with the team for the first time since undergoing knee surgery.

17.

New Jersey (21):

Rebounded from an 0-5 road trip with impressive wins over Cleveland and Utah to keep their playoff hopes alive.

18.

Atlanta (18):

Big game Wednesday at New Jersey. They're ninth in the standings and trail the Nets by a half game.

19.

Toronto (14):

Their disastrous five-game road trip began with four losses and ends tonight in Utah. Chris Bosh (sore right knee) has missed eight games and could one more. He wants to return Wednesday against Miami.

20.

Sacramento (24):

Ron Artest has scored 20 or more points in 17 of the last 21 games he's played in. The Kings have allowed 100 points in 22 of the past 26 games.

21.

Chicago (20):

Despite all of the antics - Tyrus Thomas and Chris Duhon were suspended one game in separate incidents - they're just 1½ games behind New Jersey for eighth place in the standings. Duhon, who missed a morning practice because he overslept, on being benched: "Usually, I don't play anyway, so it doesn't have that much of an effect on me."

22.

Indiana (23):

Co-owner Herb Simon: "We're talking about restructuring, re-thinking, all the things you do when your team is in crisis." CEO Donnie Walsh expected to leave after the season and could take over in New York or Atlanta where the general managers are on the hot seat.

23.

Charlotte (17):

It's pure coincidence that their five-game winning streak came to an embarrassing halt against Dallas when Gerald Wallace returned from a two-week injury. Still, wing players Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll and rookie Jared Dudley played better w/o Wallace who says his days at PF are over.

24.

LA Clippers (27):

Injury bug is biting hard. Rookie Al Thornton (right leg contusion) is out and center Chris Kaman (sore lower back) is expected to miss tonight's game.

25.

New York (28):

Eddy Curry will have season-ending knee surgery this week. Isiah Thomas, Minnesota's Randy Wittman and Atlanta's Mike Woodson were teammates at Indiana, which is the first time in NBA history three college teammates were coaching in the league at the same time. Too bad they don't win games as frequently as Bobby Knight.

26.

Minnesota (25):

Let's revisit the Kirk Snyder-Gerald Green trade. Snyder has developed into a 30-minutes-plus-a-night player while Houston waived Green, the 18th pick in the 2005 draft and '07 slam dunk champion, on Saturday.

27.

Milwaukee (22):

It's hard to fall out of the playoff picture in the East, but that's what they did after an 0-3 week. They are still just five games out of the eighth spot with 16 games remaining. However, there's four teams ahead of them.

28.

Memphis (26):

This lineup is too good to be this bad, which says that coach Marc Iavaroni's system hasn't worked. Only Golden State has allowed more points.

29.

Sonics (29):

Yes they're young and rebuilding, but 168 points? C'mon. There's no excuse for that. They've quit on coach P.J. Carlesimo and given up on the season.

30.

Miami (30):

Former Washington Husky Bobby Jones tied a NBA record when he signed a 10-day contract with Miami. He's the fourth player to play with four teams in the same season. Jones began with Denver before signing two 10-day contracts with Memphis and one with Houston. The other three players who share the record are Rod Higgins, Tony Massenburg and Alex Stivrins.

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March 15, 2008 3:42 PM

Elson grounded

Posted by Jayda Evans

Sonics C Francisco Elson did not travel with the team to Denver today. He is out with a strained right MCL and will remain in Seattle to receive more treatment. Elson should be able to rejoin the team for its home game against Phoenix on Wednesday.

The team had a good practice, according to coach P.J. Carlesimo. The focus now is another return to the basics, working on transition defense. The Sonics face a rough stretch with Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Utah this week. All are fighting for postseason positioning or, as in Denver's case, to get in.

The Nuggets really have Carlesimo concerned because of the 42-point loss last month where Denver scored 72 points inside and the Nuggets scoring 79 points in the opening half of a win against Toronto on Friday. The way the Supes are giving up the lanes and not offering help defense, Denver could easily double that.

G Adrian Griffith is still in Chicago tending to a personal matter and the team will not reveal any more information. Carlesimo said he's scheduled to speak with the player on Sunday.

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March 15, 2008 3:37 PM

Okies preparing for Sonics

Posted by Jayda Evans

There's still a pending suit and the tiny fact that the Sonics have two years remaining on their KeyArena lease, but owner Clay Bennett has sent OKC a letter of intent and his native city has passed all kinds of new taxes to woo the NBA.

Here's the latest about the Okies' big-city dream turning into reality.

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March 14, 2008 7:58 PM

Minnesota game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: KD missed a long-range jumper and threw a bad pass, which Gomes converted into a jumper to make the score 115-105 with 2:28 remaining. The Sonics chopped that deficit to eight, but folks are heading for the door as the life is being zapped from the arena.

GREEN LIGHT: Bum shoulder and all, Green made an acrobatic jay while being fouled with 6:05 remaining in the game to help pull the Supes within 105-100. Minnesota got a little sloppy with the ball and drew a foul to have a couple of scoreless possessions that allowed the Sonics to wiggle back into the game.

RUNNIN' GAME: Gomes is having a party on the bench, reveling in his team taking a 97-88 lead at the end of the third quarter, using sharp shooting and strong defense. The Sonics comeback from 25 points down to defeat the T-Wolves on March 2. They need to tighten up their "D" if it's going to happen tonight. Minnesota is outscoring Seattle 14-6 on second-chance opportunities and 48-34 inside.

CREATING DISTANCE: The Supes used an 8-2 run to open the third quarter to build a seven-point lead. Minnesota is slowly coming back, however.

SOMETHING"S BREWIN': I'm seated next to Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer, who's having trouble containing himself during this matchup. Brewer is the second-cousin of T-Wolves rookie Corey Brewer, who scored nine of his first-half 11 in the second quarter to help keep Minnesota in the game. Brewer, the player, had a wicked dunk and some nice jumpers in his collection of points, although he did get worked over by KD on defense a few times.

CLOSE GAME: There were five lead changes and 10 ties in the second quarter after the T-Wolves used a 12-4 run in the opening quarter to dig out of an early 11-4 deficit. Sonics lead 60-57 behind Wilcox's 11 points.

WATSON HOT: Watson has made all four of his field goal attempts and has six assists.

WOLVES FIGHTING: Shooting 63.2 percent from the field, Minnesota took its second lead of the game 26-25 heading into a timeout with 1:48 remaining in the opening quarter. They are running game on the Sonics' interior, outscoring the Supes 18-12 inside the paint. Ryan Gomes is the main culprit with 10 points.

WRAPED UP: Collison is playing tonight, but will do so with while wearing a white sleeve over his bruised right elbow. He isn't wearing any protection for his knee.

Here are tonight's starters:

Sonics
F Jeff Green
F Chris Wilcox
C Johan Petro
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Timberwolves
F Kirk Snyder
F Ryan Gomes
C Al Jefferson
G Marko Jaric
G Randy Foye

The officials are Mike Callahan, Brian Forte, and Bill Kennedy.

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March 14, 2008 11:50 AM

Sene returns, Elson out

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Sonics recalled C Mo Sene from the D-League today, it's his first call-up of the season. He arrives this afternoon and will be with the team temporarily due to some injuries inside, but will return to Idaho to retain his status there in order to participate in the D-League playoffs.

Sene's return was needed because F Nick Collison is banged up from a fall in Indiana that bruised his right hip and elbow and lower back while newcomer Francisco Elson is out for tonight's game against Minnesota due to a right knee sprain.

Although Collison is injured, he participated in shoot around this morning and could play tonight. F Jeff Green is listed as probable, too.

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March 13, 2008 11:17 PM

No deal for Sonics

Posted by Jayda Evans

In case you missed it, here's a link to what Seattle Times reporter David Postman had to say about the Sonics deal today. It's sad lawmakers closed their session without taking action and it was even more disheartening to hear how misinformed they were about the issue.

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March 12, 2008 4:12 PM

Boston game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

IT'S OVER --- And not too soon. The Sonics lose 111-82. The losing streak stretches to six games.

THIRD QUARTER --- Sonics trail 92-60. They are shooting just 38.2 percent from the field. Durant (16 points) and Watson 11 are the only Sonics in double digit scoring. Pierce (14 points) hasn't scored since the first quarter, but he hasn't had to. Allen and Garnett, who both have 18 points, have picked up the slack.

CELTICS STARTERS ARE OUT --- P.J. Brown replaces Perkins with about two minutes left and Seattle has a chance to dig a little bit out of its hole now that it is going against the reserves. Not sure if Rivers will need to use his starters any more.

IT'S 30 AND GROWING --- It's getting embarassiing for the Sonics, who trail 88-58 with 2:07 left in the third quarter. Rondo just completed a 360-degree fastbreak dunk and Allen cut a swath through the defense for a nifty reverse layup. Seatlte is providing no resistance.

WHERE'S WILCOX --- These are types of games that his critics point to. When he's matched against an equally athletic and quick power forward, Wilcox often disappears. Against Garnett, Wilcox hasn't taken a shot and he has just four rebounds in six minutes. He's been limited because of three fouls, which goes to show he has a hard time staying on the floor against the upper echelon PFs.

DEEPLY ROOTED --- Boston has six players on its bench who would compete for starting jobs in Seattle. Coach Doc Rivers is using an 11-man rotation tonight. Cassell took Rondo's minutes in the second and Cassell has four points. Eddie House is the top Celtics reserve with 9 and Leon Powe and Glen Davis each have 6.

THE ROUT IS ON --- It's halftime and Boston has a 20-point lead. The Sonics trail 64-44. The Celtics are just loaded. They have an embarrasment of riches. Case in point, Pierce didn't score in the second quarter and Rondo didn't play in the period and they managed to increase their first quarter lead by 10 points.

TRASH TALKIN' --- After Durant fouled Garnett, the rookie gave an earful to ref Jim Clark. Garnett chimed in and he and Durant had a brief, intense verbal exchange that included a couple of F-bombs and hard glances. Afterward a fan yelled: "KG lay off the kid."

NO COHESION --- Teh Sonics committed their second 24-second shot clock violation. Granted, the Celtics are one of the top defensive teams in the league, but what's killing Seattle is a lack of familiarity between the players. In the first quarter, Elson set a pick for Durant who dropped a pass near the rim because the Sonics rookie thought Elson was going to roll to the basket.

CASSELL CHECKS IN --- With 6:45 left in the second quarter, newly acquired guard Sam Cassell makes his Celtics debut and on Boston's first possession, he sank a mid-range jumper along the baseline.

FIRST QUARTER --- Boston leads 34-24 and it could be worse for the Sonics. Pierce leads all scorers with 14 points and Allen has 6. Durant is pacing the Sonics with 9.

HOT BUILDING --- It seems like every seat was filled for the tip off, which is unusual in the NBA. Maybe they arrived early for the bobbleheads or maybe the Celtics have finally reconnected with their fans.

STARTING LINEUPS

SONICS
F -- Chris Wilcox
F -- Jeff Green
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

BOSTON
F -- Kevin Garnett
F -- Paul Pierce
C -- Keindrick Perkins
G -- Ray Allen
G -- Rajon Rondo

PRE-GAME NOTES

Nick Collison is out tonight because of a right hip bruise, lower back bruise and right elbow bruise. Francisco Elson and Donyell Marshall will likely take the bulk of his minutes and seldom used Adrian Griffin will move to the active list.

It's Kevin Garnett bobblehead night at TD Banknorth Garden. The first 5,000 fans received one. Damien Wilkins spoke with Garnett before the game and Garnett said he had to have a good game because it's his bobblehead night. Wilkins asked what does "good game" mean? Said Wilkins: "Can you just settle for 15 (points) and five (rebounds) rather than 20, 10 and 5."

Ray Allen held court with Seattle media and others inside the Celtics locker room. He spoke about what a shame it would be if the Sonics were to leave and his rematch against Kevin Durant.

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March 11, 2008 10:37 PM

David Stern takes your questions

Posted by Percy Allen

Time Magazine wants your help before it interviews NBA Commissioner David Stern. The Magazine is seeking questions from readers and will select 10. There's been 730 responses. Many are regarding the Sonics.

To submit a question, click on this link.

Also, check out this YouTube clip on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Apparently, he picked up the nickname 'Dance Monkeyboy' because of an exuberant display during the 25th anniversary of Microsoft.

And you thought Howard Schultz was over the top at Sonics games. Imagine Ballmer after an overtime win against the LA Lakers.

And some final thoughts on Tuesday's game. Here's our game story about the 114-107 defeat at Indiana.

The Sonics were simply bullied by a team that's not very tough, which is a sad indictment. I hadn't known much about Pacers second-year guard Travis Diener, but came away thinking he's as good as Luke Ridnour, which is surprising. Ridnour had a mini-breakout game and finished with 12 points and eight assists. Not sure why he doesn't use his pullup three-point jumper more often.

Not sure what's wrong with Johan Petro, but there's plenty wrong with Petro. His stats (six points and seven rebounds) weren't terrible but he had a -14 plus/minus ratio and Pacers center Jeff Foster had 11 rebounds and five offensive rebounds.

Also not sure why coach P.J. Carlesimo didn't rotate Kevin Durant on Mike Dunleavy (32 points) when it became clear that Jeff Green couldn't slow down the Indiana forward. Durant leads the Sonics with 60 blocks.

It was good to see Nick Collison (15 points on 7-for-10 shooting) become more assertive with his jumper. You could hear Carlesimo urging him to shoot from the sidelines. Kevin Durant was also very selective and efficient. He sank 7 of 14 shots and finished with a team high 27 points.

But in the end, the Sonics didn't do enough defensively and I'm not sure if they will win another road game. The rest are against playoff contending teams.

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March 11, 2008 4:14 PM

Indiana game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

THE STREAK CONTINUES --- Sonics lose 114-107 and their losing streak now stands at five games.

LATE-GAME LINEUP SHUFFLE --- P.J. Carlesimo has used a three-guard lineup with Luke Ridnour, Watson and Durant in the final minutes. It hasn't worked. Watson is outmatched defensively against Dunleavy or Marquis Daniels.

ALMOST OVER --- With 2:25 left, it's going to be difficult for the Sonics to pull off an upset. Indiana leads 11-98. Dunleavy has 32 points. Durant 25. Granger has been impressive with dribble drives and long jumpers. He's got 23 points.

DUNLEAVY DELIGHTS --- He's got 30 points and is nearing his career high 36, which he had three times this season.

HARD FOUL --- Collison is making the most of his fouls. With 10:11 remaining, he tried to stop Dunleavy from making a layup, but in doing so fell hard to the court and banged his hip. It was an ugly scene, but Collison walked to the bench and told players and trainers that he's ok.

THIRD QUARTER --- A strong finish allowed the Sonics to pull within four points. They are behind 86-82, which is a lot better than where this thing was going. Indiana was up 86-77 and were on the verge of staging a blowout before Collison drained a long jumper and Durant knocked down a three-pointer.

LOOK OUT! --- Petro forgot to tell Watson that David Harrison was setting a screen for Diener at the top of the key. Without that knowledge, Watson, 6-1 and 185 pounds, ran head first into Harrison who is 7-0 and 280 pounds. Watson fell hard to the court and he wasn't happy about it. Seconds later, he delivered an elbow to Harrison was charged with a technical foul.

HALFTIME --- Balanced scoring for the Sonics in the second quarter. Six players scored at least four points, which helped Seattle cut its deficit to 56-55. Durant leads the Sonics with 11 points. After a rocky start, Nick Collison has eight points off the bench. Watson also has eight points and Green did not score in the period and is stuck on nine. Dunleavy leads everyone with 14 points. Granger has 13 and Murphy 10.

DUNLEAVY IS BACK --- With 2:44 left, Dunleavy returns and the Sonics trail 51-47.

DUNLEAVY DOWN --- Dunleavy went up for a rebound and sprained his left ankle. No report from the PR staff, but they way he was helped to the lockerroom, it's unlikely that he'll return.

SAME 'OLE FLIP --- Former Sonics guard Ronald 'Flip' Murray hasn't lost anything on his trademark crossover dribble. He uses it to make opponents freeze or rocks them off balance before driving to the rim and pulling up for a mid-range jumper. He has six points on 3 for 4 shooting.

FIRST QUARTER --- Sonics trail 31-24. Mike Dunleavy leads Indiana with 11 points. Green is off to a fast start. He's knocked down 4 of 5 shots for nine points.

TOUGH DRAW --- Surprisingly, the Pacers are last in average attendance at 12,184. There's probably 9,000 or so here tonight. Co-owner Herb Simon has promised changes, which likely means O'Neal and Tinsley have played their last games with the Pacers.

SHORTHANDED --- Indiana is without All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal (sore left knee) and guard Jamaal Tinsley (sore left knee).

STARTING LINEUPS

SONICS
F -- Chris Wilcox
F -- Jeff Green
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

INDIANA
F -- Troy Murphy
F -- Mike Dunleavy
C -- Jeff Foster
G -- Danny Granger
G -- Travis Diener

Officials: Monty McCutchen, Lius Grillo and Zach Zarba

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March 10, 2008 4:14 PM

Call now

Posted by Jayda Evans

In almost a whisper, Rep. Jim McIntire, D-Seattle told a cluster of fans one thing they could do to get lawmakers to pickup the pace in helping to save the Sonics. "Pressure, keep up the pressure," he said to about 40 of the more than 250 fans that bombarded the Capitol on Saturday.

The grassroots organization Save Our Sonics is pushing the same. They want supporters to call their legislators between now and Thursday, when the session is scheduled to close. Especially since the local investors giving $150 million toward renovating KeyArena have publicly stated their offer will not be on the table next year - when McIntire said legislators would be more prepared to look into funding for a Sonics project along with housing and other issues, like Husky stadium.

Everyone else seems to be on board, however. Original opponents of another sports facility have stated that the new plan falls within their guidelines and Dino Rossi, a gubernatorial candidate, released a statement today saying he supports the new proposal.

"No one, including myself, wants to see the Sonics leave Seattle," he said in the release. "We all have been waiting for a viable public-private plan to renovate Key Arena and keep the team here. Last Thursday, we got that plan. I have been skeptical about stadium plans in the past, but this is the best proposal I've ever seen in this area. No new state or county tax would be levied, and public money would only be spent on the public areas of the arena."

I heard from several sources on Saturday that close-door meetings are being held and something more concrete than a statement of intentions will be done. But, according to Save Our Sonics, fans can't rest on that. They need to take action, too, by picking up the phone. Here's their full release.

What: Sonics fans need to call 800.562.6000 now

Where: Call 800.562.6000.

Why: Washington State legislators must give King County permission to divert surplus Safeco Field funds to the proposed Seattle Center funding package THIS legislative session to ensure the NBA Board of Governors has proper recourse to vote "No" on the SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City in April.

Save Our Sonics released the following statement following the fan rally at the Capitol in Olympia on Saturday, March 8, 2008:

"Save Our Sonics is extremely encouraged by the overwhelming show of support from fans at the impromptu rally in Olympia last Saturday. Attendance of more than 300 supporters made a real impact on our state legislators, showing them and the nation what we've known all along: that Seattle is passionate about keeping the Sonics in the region.

"The next 72 hours are the most important time in Sonics history. We must continue to put the pressure on state legislators so they understand the importance of this issue to our community. Everyone who cares about sports or the future of Seattle Center must call the Washington Legislative Hotline at 800.562.6000 now and leave a message stating unequivocal support Saving the Sonics.

"Reports from Olympia indicate that calls have been overwhelmingly in favor of the Seattle Center renovation plan. Timing is critical, as we are already in the eleventh hour if we want any chance of keeping [one of our] championship team[s] in Seattle. The Sonics have been a key part of the Seattle landscape for 41 years, and we have the means in place to ensure they remain in our community for another 41 years."

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March 10, 2008 6:00 AM

NBA Power Rankings

Posted by Percy Allen

Each week we take a look at the NBA and rank the teams in order every Monday morning. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

Rank

Team (Previous rank)

Comment

1.

Houston (4):

Tracy McGrady is working himself into the MVP conversation. Their 18-game winning streak is the fourth longest in NBA history. Expect them to win three more before falling to the Lakers on Sunday.

2.

Boston (5):

First team to clinch a playoff berth. Held Detroit to just one point in the final 5:38 minutes in Wednesday's big win. Ray Allen's scoring is down eight points from career-best last season with the Sonics.

3.

LA Lakers (2):

Uncharacteristic slip against Sacramento on Sunday cost them the top spot in the rankings. Injured Andrew Bynum has started individual workouts and could begin practicing with the team next week.

4.

Detroit (1):

One loss and they drop from first to fourth, which shows how strong the top teams are. Still they have the best 9-man rotation in the NBA.

5.

San Antonio (2):

Disregard loss to Denver because it was the second game of a back-to-back set, however, the defeat at Phoenix may be a harbinger if the Spurs meet the Suns in the playoffs. The game of the week features the Spurs at Detroit on Friday in a potential Finals preview.

6.

New Orleans (8):

Big game Wednesday as San Antonio visits the Big Easy. Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who received a second chance after two-year suspension for substance abuse, could make his season debut this week.

7.

Utah (9):

Andrei Kirilenko suffered a sprained right hip after getting knocked to the floor by Dirk Nowitzki on Monday and missed the past three games.

8.

Orlando (11):

Dwight Howard looking to join Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal as the only players in NBA history to average at least 20 point, 10 rebounds and shoot better than .600 from the field.

9

Cleveland (6):

LeBron James became the youngest player to reach 10,000 career points at 23 years, 59 days, beating out Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24 years, 194 days) by about a year. James is fewer than 400 points from overtaking Brad Daugherty as Cleveland's all-time scorer.

10.

Golden State (10):

An MRI taken on Chris Webber's sore left knee revealed no new structural damage, but the 35-old will likely miss the rest of Golden State's current road trip.

11.

Denver (13):

Allen Iverson: "We still have an opportunity to get in. We just don’t need to panic right now." Still two games behind Golden State. Of Denver's 16 games in March, 14 are against foes in playoff position. Karl set a goal to win 10 games this month.

12.

Dallas (7):

Time to re-evaluate the Jason Kidd trade. Tyronn Lue chooses Mavericks over four other teams.

13.

Philadelphia (14):

Saved about $300,000 waiving Gordon Giricek, who signed with Phoenix. After torching the Sonics for 22 points and 13 rebounds, Samuel Dalembert says everything is not ok in Philly. He wants more playing time.

14:

Toronto (12):

Final west coast trip of the season begins tomorrow against the Lakers and includes stops in Oakland, Denver, Sacramento and Utah.

15.

Phoenix (15):

IBig win against Spurs on Sunday validates the trade for Shaquille O'Neal. He was brought in to beat San Antonio, however, the Suns are in danger of missing the playoffs. Former Suns star Kevin Johnson running for mayor in Sacramento.

16.

Portland (17):

They believe James Jones, who returned after missing a month with a sore left knee, can help with their last-ditch playoff push.

17.

Charlotte (24):

The Bobcats tied their franchise long winning streak set in Feb. 2007 and April 2006. Set an NBA record in win vs. Toronto when they outscored the Raptors 32-0 in second-chance points, which was the largest margin in league history. Gerald Wallace (concussion) may return this week.

18.

Atlanta (20):

Picked up two wins Saturday against Miami and moved into eighth place in the playoff standings. Still, there's a power struggle brewing in the Dirty South and either GM Billy Knight or coach Mike Woodson is leaving this summer. If Woodson is out, Larry Brown is a possible replacement.

19.

Washington (16):

Reportedly one of four teams slated to play next preseason in NBA Europe Live Tour along with New Orleans, Miami and New Jersey.

20.

Chicago (22):

Tyrus Thomas suspended two games for missing practice. The Bulls longest winning streak this season is two games.

21.

New Jersey (18):

Devin Harris is thriving since the trade from Dallas. He was promoted to a starter, which moves Marcus Williams into the second unit.

22.

Milwaukee (25):

Rookie Yi Jianlian is burned out. He said: "Right now the reason I feel I'm playing not so good is that I'm tired. I've been playing since last summer, all through this season, all these games without a stop. I'm tired out."

23.

Indiana (19):

Co-owner Herb Simon promises changes in the offseason, which means president Larry Bird could be in trouble and disgruntled Jermaine O'Neal will likely be traded this summer.

24.

Sacramento (21):

Sunday's victory against the LA Lakers at Staples Center was their biggest win of the season and snapped a three-game losing streak. It was also their first win in the Pacific Division. Kevin Martin's 48-point performance on Friday was the second most in since the Kings moved to Sacramento.

25.

Minnesota (30):

They're paying Antoine Walker to stay at home and hope to move his $9.3 million contract this summer in a trade.

26.

Memphis (29):

Point guard problems have yet to be resolved. Rookie Mike Conley is starting, but Kyle Lowry is proving to be an effective scorer and Javaris Crittenton isn't bad either. Still somebody has to go in a trade this summer.

27.

LA Clippers (28):

Coach Mike Dunleavy and owner Donald Sterling spoke last week for the first time in over a month. If Dunleavy gets the ax, this is another possible destination for Larry Brown.

28.

New York (23):

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Isiah Thomas' contract extension. Knicks are 22-57 since signing their coach/GM. Last Monday's loss clinched a seventh-straight losing season. It is one shy of the franchise longest, which too place from 1959-60 to 1966-67, just when Willis Reed showed up.

29.

Sonics (27):

Mercifully this seven-game road trip is winding to a close. Their losing streak will likely end Friday at home against Minnesota.

30.

Miami (26):

Coach/GM Pat Riley is considering leaving the bench to scout draft prospects. The Heat has a 21.6 percent chance of landing the No. 1 spot in the draft and taking Kansas State's Michael Beasley.

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March 9, 2008 10:11 AM

Toronto game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

0-4 --- The losing streak extends to four games after this 114-106 loss.

PAGING A CUTMAN --- Ridnour stumbled face first and opened a cut over his left eye. He knocked down two free throws, to cut Seattle's deficit to 103-98, but had to leave because the cut continued bleeding.

FREE PIZZA --- Bargnani drained a long jumper that gave the Raptors a 101-86 lead and gave the fans free pizza. There's eight minutes remaining. The Sonics defense is just running through the motions now. It's anyone's guess how much Toronto finishes with. Wilcox is the only one playing with any real energy right now.

THIRD QUARTER --- Once the Sonics fell behind, they fought for a few minutes before succumbing to a Toronto run. They trail 89-79 going into the fourth and it's going to take a huge effort to come back and steal this game. Toronto is exploiting the Seattle from the outside and in the middle. Parker has a game-high 18 points. Wilcox leads Seattle with 17.

FAST-PACED QUARTER --- For about six minutes, both teams missed about five shots. It was an impressive display of shot making. Parker got hot from the three-point line and knoced down two behind the arc. Wilcox (two dunks) kept the Sonics close and Watson and Durant each added layups. Durant, however, is a little out of control. He's on the bench now.

6-0 RAPTORS RUN --- Toronto moved ahead 60-58 largely because Watson had two turnovers and they are not putting a body on the Raptors as they dive to the basket. It's an early timeout for the Sonics, but Carlesimo had to do something. No lineup changes.

BARGNANI BOMBS AWAY --- Bargnani has converted just 2 of 11 shots. He has six points. Toronto, which has attempted more three-pointers than any team in the NBA, has taken 12 and converted four. Seattle is 2 for 3 behind the arc.

HALFTIME --- Petro came in for a few seconds to relieve Wilcox, who had two fouls, but he was quickly replaced by Wilkins for a last-minute scoring situation. Seattle still holds a 58-54 lead. Wilcox scored just two points in the second, but still leads everyone with 13 points. Watson has 10 points and six assists. Durant was scoreless in the second and still has nine points. Raptors reserve Carlos Delfino scored all 11 of his points in the quarter.

STARTERS BACK IN, EXCEPT ONE --- Petro is the only starter who is not on the floor. Collison is manning the center position.

GELABALE GETS TIME --- The death of the Gelabale experiament may have been exaggerated. He's played six minutes and has two points. Still his performance doesn't make a strong case that he deserves more minutes. He's not being aggressive.

THREE MINUTES LATER --- The Sonics call timeout and their lead is now 46-43 with all the momentum having swung to the Raptors. Damien Wilkins is trying to keep the second unit afloat. He's sank all three of his baskets for seven points, but the reserves just don't have enough firepower. Carlesimo is subbing in Wilcox and Green.

IMPORTANT STRETCH --- The Sonics don't have a starter on the floor and in past games this is when they struggle. The score is 39-30 Seattle. This group (Mickeal Gelabale, Petro, Collison, Wilkins and Ridnour) will be out there about four minutes. It will be interesting to see how they fare.

BETTER EFFORT --- The Sonics have shaken the malaise that hampered them the past two games. There's a little life on the bench. Players are sharing the ball and making shots. Case in point, Nick Collison sank a fallaway jumper from about 20 feet.

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES --- Play was momentarily stopped because the game clock above the Sonics basket is malfuctioning.

FIRST QUARTER --- It's a three-man effort right now for Seattle, which leads 31-24. Wilcox has 11 on 4-for-7 shooting, Durant has nine on 4-for-6 and Watson has six on 2-for-2 shooting. Parker has eight points for Toronto.

GOOD START --- Sonics lead 25-18. Durant has nine and Wilcox seven.

NO BOSH --- Toronto F Chris Bosh is still resting his sore right knee, which pushed Nesterovic in the starting lineup.

BIG GAME FOR PETRO --- Petro is paired against Nesterovic, who was with coach P.J. Carelsimo in San Antonio. If Petro fares poorly, then Carlesimo has hinted that he'll turn to Nick Collison or Francisco Elson to start the next few games. A solid game from could Petro could save his job.

GOOD MORNING --- It's a decent matinee crowd at the Air Canada Centre considering folks are still digging itself out of a snow storm that blanketed the city for the past 36 hours. The snowy conditions made travel extremely difficult, but more on that later.

STARTING LINEUPS

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

TORONTO
F -- Jamario Moon
F -- Andrea Bargnani
C -- Rasho Nesterovic
G -- Anthony Parker
G -- Jose Calderon

Officials -- Rodney Mott, John Goble and Zach Zarba

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March 8, 2008 2:55 PM

Resolution for Sonics?

Posted by Jayda Evans

It was an eerie sight down in Olympia today. The positive was about 250 fans draped in Sonics gear - either their own classic T-shirts or free ones from the Save Our Sonics crew - gathered at the state's Capitol Building to show their support for the team and literally demand that legislators act now to keep it here.

After being prepped outside and chanting "Save Our Sonics," which vibrated off the building walls, the fans filled the House and Senate galleries at separate times and cornered their elected officials to talk hoops.

That's where the bad filtered in.

It was odd to hear representatives admit to not knowing what the "real" issues are with the Sonics outside of what they've read in the papers. And many stated their doubt that anything would be done before the session closes Thursday.

Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland did offer a little hope. He told a cluster of about 40 fans outside the House chambers that a "statement of intentions" to put together a plan for a multimillion dollar financial package for local projects such as housing and KeyArena is being written to present by Thursday.

"It wouldn't involve any state money, just local taxes that currently exist," Goodman said.

Fans were not particularly happy about this resolution to their plight, however. Since the NBA will vote on Sonics owner Clay Bennett's proposal to relocate to Oklahoma City in April, many said the urgency is now for legislators to give King County permission to extend the tax being used to pay for Safeco Field to fund the $75 million toward a renovated KeyArena.

If a site and owners are in place, many believe the NBA owners will vote against Bennett because a plan is in place in Seattle. Goodman's proposal sounded a little like a punch line you'd read in "Dilbert," where management agrees to meet to decide when to meet.

"The taxes that they're looking at, they [legislators] want to use that for education," said Chris Jones, a 20-year Sonics season ticket holder, after listening to several legislators. "From what I understand, that was instituted for sports. If they want to extend four years after that for education, fantastic, but bottom line, we're on a timeline here to let the [NBA] Board of Governors know we have a viable plan here in Seattle and we have local ownership. If we do that, according to [Utah Jazz owner] Larry Miller, who was on [sports radio KJR 950-AM], that would change everything. We've got to make that happen."

But Scott Merriman, director of Legislative affairs, said this is part of the process that has to take place.

"They [the fans] are being heard," said Rep. Jim McIntire, D-Seattle, who was active in trying to solve the arena situation when Howard Schultz was owner. "But there are a lot of other priorities and calls on these dollars. We need to be careful how we step into this. We also need to recognize that we are trying to tighten our budget right now. To be cutting the budget and building something for a professional sports team sends the wrong message."

Because of the late date and need to focus on other issues, the officials that spoke with fans said next year would be a better time to look at the Sonics issue.


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March 8, 2008 10:02 AM

Trash talk

Posted by Percy Allen

Percy Allen: All right Jayda. I'm not smart enough to figure this out so I need a little help. Please explain to me why the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks are meeting tonight to replay the final minute of game that nobody cares about. I mean seriously, what's the point?

Jayda Evans: Goodness. Are we back to this? I think I was for it, but it's been so long and so much has happened. Are they flying Shaq back for the game? Anyway, it is significant that the NBA is willing to seriously look at a team's protest and come out and admit that there was an error in judgment by their officials. True that it means nothing as far as this game is concerned but it sets a precedent where it could matter in games of importance in the future that could settle a playoff race.

Allen: Good to know that you're finally coming around to my way of thinking on this. But don't read too much into this. The NBA will never - and I repeat NEVER - reverse the decision of a playoff game once the final buzzer goes off and both teams are in the locker room. The stakes are too high at that point.

Evans: I wouldn't say never. Like I said, this sets a precedent to give that contending team an easy case to point to where the NBA did do the unthinkable. And because the stakes are high in the postseason, I could possible see the league going there. Plus, it's another chance for TV revenue! Oh, wait, ratings are down. Still, if the league is going to do this in the future, it has to be immediately following the mistake. I'm sure Mike Bibby and Shawn Marion are overjoyed to play this snafu.

Allen: Speaking of Bibby and Marion, what's your take on the midseason trades.

Evans: As I thought, the Shaq deal was more of a playoff move, so here's hoping the Big Fella can get it together by then. But I'm sticking with my two leading contenders to win the West in Utah and the Lakers. They made the smartest moves to help their roster and look great. The bold moves were needed to catch San Antonio and I'm enjoying all of the star power in the West. You can't possibly disagree with that, can you?

Allen: Disagree with you? Never.

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March 7, 2008 8:39 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

That sound you heard was the Sonics hitting the bottom of the well. In the second half, they managed just 31 points and shot 38.9 percent and appeared to give less than a 100 percent effort. Here's the Associated Press game story.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo hinted he may make a change in the starting lineup after Sunday's game in Toronto. Center Johan Petro could lose his job to Nick Collison or Francisco Elson. Petro finished with just six points on 3-for-7 shooting and five rebounds while Samuel Dalembert had 22 points and 13 rebounds.

The Sonics can't afford off nights from anyone and Earl Watson scored just six points and no reserve had more than Nick Collison's eight.

Kevin Durant, who scored 14 points, attempted just 11 shots. It was his fewest since Dec. 29.

Jeff Green had 12 points, but needed 15 shots.

Luke Ridnour continues to slide. He was scoreless in 19 minutes.

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March 7, 2008 4:15 PM

Philadelphia game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

GAME OVER --- Sonics lose 117-83.

JUNK TIME --- The Sonics will lose this game and Carlesimo has emptied the bench. Green, however, is the only starter still on the court and it looks as if he will finish the game with the reserves.

DALEMBERT CHECKS OUT --- It's about time. He finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

DALEMBERT STAYS IN --- It seems obvious that Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks is keeping Dalembert in the game so he can get surpass his career high of 24 points. He's the only starter on the court.

MARSHALL, WILKS ENTER --- With 7:15 left, Donyell Marshall and Mike Wilks make an appearance.

BAD BODY LANUAGE --- The Sonics look physically and mentally whipped. There's no life whatsoever on the bench. No encouragment. No high fives. Little to no communication. Just blank stares into the crowd. At times, Durant stands up and waves a white towel to cheer on teammates, but he's the only one.

THIRD QUARTER --- What was once a competitive game has the makings of a blowout. The Sonics reduced their halftime deficit to five points (63-58), but the rest of the quarter was downright dismal. Seattle managed just eight points for the rest of the period and trails 88-66.

COLLISON STARTS --- Nick Collison started the second half in place of Petro. Petro wasn't bad in the first half. He had two points and three rebounds, but he did very little to contain Dalembert. Collison is two inches shorter than the Sixers center, but he knows how to play position defense.

OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION --- The Sonics have no problems scoring tonight. They shot 52.6 percent in the first quarter 60 percent in the second and 56.4 in the first half. The problem is their defense. Philadelphia is shooting 58.7 percent in the half. The Sixers also have 15 fastbreak points and 34 points in the paint.

HALFTIME --- The Sonics are down 61-52. Dalembert has 16 points and six rebounds. His season high scoring is 22 and his career high is 24. Wilcox scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the second quarter.

DAZZLING DISPLAY --- Dalembert is putting on a dunk show. He's just flushed his third dunk. This one came over Wilcox that put Philadelphia up 53-41.

PRESSURE --- After baskets, Philadelphia is pressuring the Sonics guards, espeically Luke Ridnour, in the backcourt. The ploy is causing Seattle fits.

GLASS CLEANING --- The difference in rebounding is beginning to show itself. The Sixers have 11 in the first quarter compared to seven for Seattle. Evans and Dalembert are rebounding monsters. Each has four. The Sonics need Wilcox to pay attention to the glass and box out.

FIRST QUARTER --- Sonics trail 33-22. Every Sixer in the starting lineup has scored. Iguodala and Evans each have seven points to lead Philadelphia. Durant has a game-high 10.

TICKET REQUEST --- Sparse crowd at the Wachovia Center. Several Sonics had large ticket demands tonight. Donyell Marshall who hails from nearby Reading, PA needed 16 tickets. Durant and Green, who are from Washington, D.C., each asked for 12 tickets. And Chris Wilcox also has a small contingency in the building.

STARTING LINEUPS

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

PHILADELPHIA
F -- Andre Iguodala
F -- Reggie Evans
C -- Samuel Dalembert
G -- Willie Green
G -- Andre Miller

Officials -- Tom Washington, Jason Phillips, Mark Ayotte

PRE-GAME NOTES --- Coach P.J. Carlesimo believes Thursday's day off will help the Sonics and give them fresh legs.

-- One of the keys to the game for the Sonics is containing Philadelphia's explosive backcourt, especially PG Andre Miller.

-- The Sixers are the No. 1 offensive rebounding team.

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March 7, 2008 1:39 PM

Sonics rally planned

Posted by Jayda Evans

Save Our Sonics planned a rally in Olympia for tomorrow. Organizers admitted to the late notice, but given all the news that has generated this week and how the onus is now on legislators to make a move, the need is now to show support, according to co-founder Brian Robinson. Here's the release.

When: Saturday, March 8, 10-11am
Please try to be there a few minutes early to account for the drive and parking.

Where: Between Legislative Building and Capital, Dome
Please join us in the courtyard between these two buildings.

What: Show support for keeping the Sonics in the region
Supporters of the legislation to fund a Key Arena Renovation package proposed by Seattle Mayor Greg Nichols and supported by new potential team ownership will gather at the steps of the legislative building encouraging members of legislature to pass the proposal during the current legislative session.
Participants are encouraged to wear Sonics logo clothing and all participants will receive a complimentary Save Our Sonics T-Shirt.


Please RSVP to confirm your attendance so we can get an idea on numbers.

Bring your kids, bring your friends.

We know this is short notice and that it is difficult to make a road trip like this but it is a critical time in this issue and every person that can make it counts!

Sincerely,


Brian and Steve
Save Our Sonics

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

email: info@saveoursonics.org
Web: http://saveoursonics.org

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March 7, 2008 9:00 AM

GP, Kemp and Karl reunite

Posted by Percy Allen

Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and George Karl will appear tonight on FSN's Best Damn Sports Show. The show will air at 11 p.m. and replay tomorrow at 12:30 a.m. Payton and Kemp are in the studio and Karl joins via satellite.

Check out this video clip of the show or read some of the exceprts below.

Payton on the possibility of the Sonics leaving Seattle:
"We hope to keep hope alive. We want to get our numbers retired in Seattle. I wouldn't feel comfortable with going nowhere else. I don't think it's fair to the Seattle people for us to go somewhere and have a ceremony in some other city when we started something in Seattle. We love those fans and they love us. We wanna go back to them and let them see our numbers get raised to the rafters in their city and nowhere else."

Kemp on the possibility of the Sonics leaving Seattle:
"When Gary came in from Oregon State, we talked about looking up there one day and seeing our jerseys up there in the banner. I think something can happen. The Seahawks went through it a little bit where the team threatened to leave the city and they stayed and I'm hoping the same thing happens with the Sonics where eventually they can get something worked out."

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March 5, 2008 9:29 PM

Carlesimo and Marshall clash/Stern comments

Posted by Percy Allen

For the second straight night, the Sonics pull close in the end, but eventually falter in the final minutes. Here's the Associated Press story.

That's a barebone desription, which doesn't include Kevin Durant constantly bickering with officials, another splendid effort from Earl Watson, more misery for Luke Ridnour and Mickael Gelabale, who combined for seven points, and a verbal spat between coach P.J. Carlesimo and Donyell Marshall that will certainly be overblown in tomorrow's papers.

Everyone in the NBA world has been waiting to see if and when Carlesimo would explode again. His temper and use of colorful language has alienated players in past stops at Portland (Rod Strickland) and Golden State (Latrell Sprewell). I thought he's been relatively mellow this season. Well, as mellow as Carlesimo can be.

Late in the second quarter, he verbally dressed down Marshall on the bench for failing to make the proper defesive rotation while defending a pick and roll. Kneeling in front of Marshall, Carlesimo used a few expletives and Marshall, who didn't back down, fired right back at the coach. The whole thing lasted less than a minute.

Afterward, Marshall downplayed everything. "It's nothing," he repeated over and over. And maybe he's right. But it was the first time Carlesimo's rant was witnessed in front of an arena full of spectors this season.

Some final thoughts on the game ...

After making significant strides defensively, the Sonics have taken several steps back in the past two weeks. They've allowed at least 103 points in the past six games. Miwaukee scored 69 points in the first half, which was a season high for a Sonics opponent.

It was good to see Durant verbally spar with the refs. He thought he was playing good defense and they thought he was late getting into position. Durant is a superstar in the making and he needs to assert his will on the game. If that means jawing at officials to earn a little respect then so be it.

Johan Petro collected a career-high 15 rebounds, which is great, but he failed to haul in one offensive rebound and could not slow down Andrew Bogut, who had 21 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and two steals.

Watson is proving that he's a keeper. When given consistent minutes, he can can produce. And his jumper is getting better. His major drawback is his turnovers. Tonight he had four.

Lastly, Desmond Mason gave reminders why he was a favorite for many Sonics fans. He can do things that few people in the NBA - few people on the planet - can do. He has an amazing leaping ability and watching him elevate is breathtaking. His scoring line tonight was classic Desmond Mason. 16 points, 4-for-4 shooting and 8-for-11 at the FT line. Still, you would think that after all of these years he would fix that broken jump shot. It looks like Charles Barkley's golf swing.

Now for David Stern ...

The Commissioner took in a Portland Trail Blazers game on Tuesday and made himself available for a Q & A with the Oregonian. There's nothing new, but still found it interesting.

Here's an except of the interview.

Q: What's the latest with the Seattle relocation situation?
A: Well, I think I've probably just gotten in trouble in Seattle with the two interviews I did on courtside so I might as well share with you. The latest is, the city said not only we won't contribute, that's owed, but to a Key Arena that we agree needs to be refurbished but we're going to get legislation passed that makes it almost impossible to do it. Requiring us to get a return on our investment and not to make the traditional investment. The state legislature said we understand that the tax that is funding baseball and football is expiring but we're not going to extend it for the benefit of basketball, and in fact you guys ... are paying your players too much and we'd rather give it to the University of Washington or somebody. Which I think are OK responses, but I think they send a pretty clear signal and I think that on that basis the ownership of Seattle petitioned to move to Oklahoma City and they will likely move whenever their lease is over and the court allows them to move. And that's the story.

Q: How do you feel about losing the Seattle market?
A: Not good. We've been there for 41 years. It's been a great market. I guess the question would be: How do the city council and the state legislature feel? It's not a fair question on us.


Q: Do you see a team returning to Seattle in the future?
A: You know, I'm not going to make any predictions or threats. I don't know what else to say.

Q: Do you consider that franchise all but gone right now?
A: Well, it seems to me that, and I said early, if I were the owner and the Speaker of the House told me what he told me and the mayor told me what he told me and the city council told me what they told me, you know, I mean, the House said 'We're not even going to put the bill out. We're not even going to give the legislature an opportunity. So I think it's been unfair the way it's been shifted back to us. Clay Bennett has an asset that he paid good money for, he did a lot of work and spent additional millions on optioning land and doing a variety of other things in anticipation or hope that there would be legislation extending the tax and they said, 'No.' So he applied to move to Oklahoma City.

Q: What makes Oklahoma City such an attractive NBA city?
A: The owners, I'm not going to prejudge it. All I would say is that it has two years of history. It's one of those rare occasions where you have a peek into a city. They sold out the Ford Center for two years with the Hornets and as I stand here they just passed, by a margin exceeding 61 percent, a once cent, the very tax increase that the Speaker of the House said wasn't available from Seattle, just in terms of extension. So they are going to take a building that was adequate and if they get a team, or maybe even if they don't get a team, they are going to bring that into a state-of-the-art arena.

Q: Do you fell you've taken unfair criticism with this?
A: That's what I get paid to do. Maybe I'll put it in a chapter in the book I'm not going to write. But suffice to say, you could expect everyone to start scurrying now that the reality has hit home, get out of here, get out of here, get out of here, we won't help you, Oh now, we didn't mean that. Well, words have meaning and we listen to them very carefully because unlike government, businesses have to make prudent decisions. Government has an opportunity to do nothing ... I don't mean that in a bad way, you don't have to legislate, you don't have to act, you can just sit and do nothing. But businesses have to make plans for the future and in the absence of any movement from the city and the state and the general agreement that the current arena is not the future arena ... there are one of two prospects: Either the court will rule that the Sonics can move after this season or will rule that they have to stay for two more after which they will likely move and there will still be $30 million of bonds (owed) because they bonds exceed the lease term.

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March 5, 2008 4:55 PM

Milwaukee game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

IT'S OVER --- Sonics lose 118-106. It's their second loss on this seven-game road trip.

KNOCKOUT --- Charlie Bell stole a Watson pass and raced in for a layup the will seal the game.

SPIN FACTOR --- A Bucks PR person told me the reason for the low turnout is there's an snow storm that's supposed to hit city tonight.

ANYONE'S GAME --- With 2:43 left, the Sonics trail 107-102.

FUNKY FIGURES --- The announced crowd is 15,010, but it looks much closer to 10,000 and maybe 11,000. The upper bowl is about a quarter filled and there's whole sections with just a few fans. The Bucks have had just two sellouts this season. Capacity is 18,717.

REDD UPDATE --- Bucks PR says he has a nose laceration and his return is questionable. With Milwaukee up 105-88 with 8:47 left, it's unlikely that he'll play again.

THIRD QUARTER --- Seattle trails 98-83. The Sonics are gettting solid efforts on the offensive end from Durant (19 points), Watson (17), Petro (11) and Green (10), but no one else has stepped up and defensively they are not very good. The Bucks are still shooting a high percentage (52.0) and no one can stop Villuanueva or Bogut (20 points and 10 rebounds).

REDD OUT --- The Bucks leading scorer was escorted to the lockerroom with a towel over his eye. No word yet on the injury or if he'll return.

WHERE'S WEEZY? --- On paper, Villanueva is a good matchup for him. However, the Bucks forward is thoroughly outplaying Wilcox, who has six points and four rebounds. Villanueva has a season-high 32 points and nine rebounds.

ROOKIE FRUSTRATIONS --- Normally mild-mannered Durant is visiably upset with the officials. After each of his three fouls, he's complained vehmently and made several dramatic gestures. Durant believes he's beating his man to the spot, but the refs say he's getting there too late.

HALFTIME --- Seattle trails 69-54. Whenever the Sonics make a run, Villanueva or Redd knock down a big shot. The Sonics can't slow down the Bucks who are shooting 54.9 percent from the field. Villanueva has 21 points, Bogut 16 and Redd 15. So far the difference has been the lopsided first quarter. Both teams scored 30 points in the second.

DURANT RETURNS --- He just returned to the bench, but is still obviously bothered by the eye. It looks red and he's squinting and rubbing it.

DURANT IN THE LOCKER ROOM --- Durant caught a finger in his right eye from Ivey and he's back in the locker room. He's probably getting an x-ray. Not sure if he'll return just yet.

FIRST QUARTER --- Villanueva has connected on three three-pointers and he has 15 points to lead all scorers. Milwaukee is shooting 64 percent while Seattle is shooting 39.1 percent. Watson has 10 points and Durant six. Seattle trails 39-24.

STARTING LINEUPS

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

MILWAUKEE
F -- Desmond Mason
F -- Charlie Villanueva
C -- Andrew Bogut
G -- Michael Redd
G Royal Ivey

PRE-GAME NOTES --- Milwaukee will be without guard Mo Williams (abdominal strain) and rookie reserve C/F Yi Jianlian (sprained left ankle). Royal Ivey is expected to start in place of Williams. Reserves Ramon Sessions and Awvee Storey will be activated for the Bucks.

Expect to see more of Donyell Marshall, who had his best game as a Sonic in Tuesday's defeat at Detroit.

Talking to international journalists, Kevin Durant said the hardest part of his rookie season has been the travel.

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March 4, 2008 9:29 PM

Easy win for OKC, tough loss for Supes

Posted by Percy Allen

The plan to imrpove the Ford Center and build a NBA practice facility easily passed in Oklahoma City Tuesday night. Read our story here.

Meanwhile, the Sonics gave the Detroit Pistons all that they could handle and nearly captured their biggest upset of the season before falling 100-97 at The Palace at Auburn Hills. Here's the Associated Press game story.

Some final thoughts ...

If the Sonics draft as well as the Pistons over the next three years, then at the very least they will have a very nice bench. Four of Detroit's six premier reserves were acquired in the draft. They're good role players, but not sure if anyone will be an All-Star with the exception of Rodney Stuckey, who is being groomed to take over for Chauncey Billups.

Since the Sonics are focusing on developing the Young Four (Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Johan Petro and Mickael Gelabale) then we'll focus on them.

Durant was fantastic. He sank his first five shots and finished with 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists. Green (15 points) was impressive knocking down two of four three-pointers, but he's still best in transition when he's attacking the basket. Petro had 10 rebounds, but he didn't control the middle and Gelabale has completely fallen off. He was scoreless, missing three shots in nine minutes.

It's becoming increasingly obvious that Luke Ridnour (0-4 shooting, 0 points and 0 assists) has no future with the Sonics. After the Tuesday morning shootaround, he said he still has the same confidence that he had early in his NBA career, but I just don't see it.

This seven-game road trip could get real ugly real quick. The Sonics play Milwaukee Wednesday.

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March 4, 2008 4:03 PM

Detroit game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

IT'S OVER --- Sonics lose 100-97.

THREE AND OUT --- Not sure why Carlesimo didn't use one of his two 20-second timeouts when the team trailed 98-94. After two missed shots, the coach urged his players to continue playing, but they never got off a good shot.

STILL UNDECIDED --- Watson drained a driving layup to cut Seattle's deficit to 96-94 with 43.8 seconds left.

ANOTHER DROUGHT --- The Sonics are stuck on 80. They haven't scored in at least eight possesions. Detroit leads 90-80.

OKC VOTE WILL PASS --- News outlets in Oklahoma City are predicting the measure will easily pass. With 201 of 271 precincts reporting, the yes vote is 60.5 percent (30,895) and the no vote is 39.5 percent (20,149).

NO CHANGE --- The past 12 minutes did nothing to change the game. Seattle still leads by one, 78-77. The next six minutes will likely decide the game because the Sonics reserves are in and they haven't been very good thus far. If Detroit races to a sizeable lead, it will be difficult for the Sonics starters to recover once they re-enter.

STILL PERFECT --- Durant has converted on all five of his shots. He has 11 points. Watson lead all scorers with 14 and Wilcox has 10. Prince is tops for Detroit with 13.

NO BENCH SUPPORT --- Six Seattle reserves have contributed just seven points. Detroit has 16 bench points, led by Maxiell's five.

TALE OF TWO QUARTERS --- The Sonics took 22 shots in the first and second quarters. They made 18 in the first and just four in the second. That pretty much sums up the first half. Seattle still leads, but just barely 54-53. They managed 13 points in the period, which is four shy of a season low.

OKC VOTE PASSING --- With 20 of 271 precincts reporting, the measure is passing 57.3 percent (3,512 votes) to 42.7 percent (2,622) no votes.

SWIFT UPDATE --- The Sonics announced Robert Swift underwent successful surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee today. Dr. Stephen Lombardo performed the surgery in Los Angeles.

THE DROUGHT --- After more than six minutes, the Sonics have scored just one point. They are 0-14 in the quarter. Seattle still eads 42-37 with 5:30 left. If Detroit was shooting better than 34.4 percent, then it probably would have raced past the Sonics. Seattle is now shooting 50 percent.

KENT'S FINEST --- Kentwood High standout Rodney Stuckey entered the game early in the second quarter. He made his first start Saturday in place of Billups.

FIRST QUARTER --- Seattle leads 41-28. Watson has 12 points and Wilcox and Durant each have eight. Prince leads Detroit with nine and Billups has eight. The Sonics are shooting 81.8 percent from the field. They've connected on 18 of 22 shots. Obviously that would be an NBA record if it held up. The score would be even more lopsided if the Sonics were better at the line. They are 5 of 9 on free throws.

RECORD BREAKER --- The 41 first quarter points is a season high and the most the Sonics have scored in any period. It tops the 40 points they scored against Cleveland. Still it's 10 points shy of the club record 51 set Feb. 13, 1970.

LOOKING AHEAD --- The Sonics may have caught Detroit napping. It looks as if the Pistons are more concerned about their game tomorrow at rival Boston than Seattle.

STRONG START --- Watson has connected on his first three shots to give the Sonics a 14-6 lead.

NO RATLIFF --- Theo Ratliff will not play. He's dressed in street clothes on the bench.

STARTING LINEUPS

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

DETROIT
F -- Tayshaun Prince
F -- Antonio McDyess
C -- Rasheed Wallace
G -- Richard Hamilton
G -- Chauncey Billups

Officials - Joe Forte, Zach Zarba and Derek Richardson

PRE-GAME NOTES --- A lot of the buzz in the building is being generated by newly signed journeyman center Theo Ratliff, who joins the Detroit Pistons for the playoff push. He's on the active list for today's game, but not sure if he'll make his Pistons debut against the Sonics.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo talked about how this road trip is different from the rest. For starters, it's the longest in days (13) and games (seven). The Supes face two teams (Detroit and Boston) with legitimate championship aspirations and four (Toronto, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Indiana) with playoff hopes.

Nearly the entire team attended assitant GM Scott Perry's dinner party on Monday at his house.

Carlesimo waffled a few times when asked if Johan Petro has a chance of securing a starting spot next season with his play over the final six weeks.

Said Carlesimo: "No. In reality, we're not going to wipe the slate clean. He can make a case for himself and he can how we look at things (in the offseason) a little bit different. But in reality, what he does from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1 will be much more of a factor. He can change what we say in the offseason and what we're going to do in terms of drafting and deals. ... Could he yes, but it would be a really huge order for him to play at level where we say we got a starter. You know what? That's not fair to say that. Anything is possible."

Minutes later, Carlesimo said the team would likely seek to improve its interior defense and find someone who can give them a low-post presence. He said the same thing a day earlier after practice.

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March 4, 2008 9:31 AM

Big day in Oklahoma City

Posted by Percy Allen

AURBURN HILLS, Mich. - Clay Bennett's bid to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City could die today if voters there do not approve a plan to improve the Ford Center. For more details, check out this story.

The Oklahoman columinst Berry Trammel writes: "This is one of those rare wrinkles in time, when man-made and God-made forces have put Oklahoma City in a position unthinkable a mere three years ago." Here's his story.

Also check out the Times' story today on the latest efforts to keep the team in Seattle.

As for the on-the-court issues, Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison returned to drills this morning after sitting out Monday with nagging injuries. Both are expected to play tonight against Detroit. Same starters and no change in the rotations.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo talked about why he benched rookie F Jeff Green in the final two periods of Sunday's overtime win at Minnesota. Basically, he was looking for more energy and effort and Green wasn't giving it at the time.

The coach said opposing teams sometimes attempt to intimidate the young guys (Green, Kevin Durant, Johan Petro and Mickael Gelabale) and he wants them to fight back (not literally) when that happens.

He also said he's taking a hard look at Gelabale who has regressed in the past couple of games. Part of the problem could be physical - Gelabale is thin and a bit undersized for a small forward - and part of it could be mental. Again, it goes back to the intimidation thing. Carlesimo said he believes his young guys play better against teams like Minnesota, but have difficulty against the better squads like Detroit, the LA Lakers, etc.

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March 3, 2008 11:20 AM

Durant's streak ends

Posted by Percy Allen

ROCHESTER, Mich. - Sonics guard Kevin Durant had his streak of three straight Rookie of the Month awards snapped by Houston's Luis Scola.

Durant was a finalist in the Western Conference along with Los Angeles Clippers forward Al Thornton.

Statistically, February has been Durant's worst month.

In November, he averaged 19.4 points on 40 percent shooting and 4.3 rebounds. In December, it was 18.8 points, 40.8 percent and 4.1 rebounds. In January, 19.4, 40.0 percent and 4.0 rebounds.

And in February, 18.1 points, 37.6 percent and 4.0 rebounds.

New Orleans guard Chris Paul was the last rookie to sweep the Rookie of the Month awards during the 2005-06 season.

Here's the press release from the NBA.

ATLANTA'S AL HORFORD AND HOUSTON'S LUIS SCOLA
NAMED T-MOBILE ROOKIES OF THE MONTH


NEW YORK, March 3, 2008 - The Atlanta Hawks' Al Horford and the Houston Rockets' Luis Scola today were named the Eastern and Western Conference T-Mobile Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in February.


For every point scored by the players named the T-Mobile Rookie of the Month, T-Mobile will donate $20 to the New Orleans Recovery School District. This month T-Mobile will donate $3,040 on behalf of Horford and $3,040 on behalf of Scola. This philanthropic component is new to the T-Mobile Rookie Program and builds on T-Mobile's strong appeal to the nation's youth as the official wireless partner of the NBA. Other highlights of T-Mobile's partnership with the NBA include the T-Mobile Rookie of the Year, T-Mobile Rookie of the Month Awards, and the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, an All-Star competition between NBA rookies and second-year players. During NBA All-Star 2008, T-Mobile Huddle Up and NBA Cares will host more than 5,000 local students in the lower bowl of the arena to watch this year's Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam.

Among rookies, Horford is ranked first in rebounds with 10.6 rpg and double-doubles with 16. He set career highs of 20 rebounds on Feb. 6, vs. Lakers, and 20 points on Feb. 29, vs. New York. In addition, Horford recorded seven double-doubles, including three straight to finish the month. He also became the first Hawk to grab 20 rebounds in a game since Alan Henderson did it on Nov. 26, 2002.

While helping lead his team to a 13-0 record for the month, Scola led all rookies in field goal percentage with .629 percent. He is ranked 15th overall in the NBA this season in field goal percentage with .530. In addition, Scola was ranked third among West rookies in scoring with 11.7 ppg and recorded a career-high five steals vs. Memphis on Fe. 29, 2008, setting the most by a Rockets player in a game this season.

Here is a recap of the month for both Horford and Scola:

Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Feb. 6 vs. LA Lakers: Registered 15 points, and a career-high 20 rebounds in a 98-95 victory over the Lakers.
Feb. 13 @ Charlotte: Recorded a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds in a 100-98 overtime loss to the Bobcats.
Feb. 25 @ San Antonio: Posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds in a 89-74 loss to the Spurs.
Feb. 29 vs. New York: Tallied a career-high 20 points, along with 11 rebounds in a 99-93 victory over the Knicks.

Luis Scola, Houston Rockets
Feb. 7 vs. Cleveland: Tallied 10 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in a 92-77 victory over the Cavaliers.
Feb. 9 vs. Atlanta: Recorded 14 points and nine rebounds in a 109-89 win against the Hawks.
Feb. 21 vs. Miami: Registered a double- double with 11 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three assists in a 112-100 victory over the Heat.
Feb. 29 vs. Memphis: Posted 15 points and five rebounds to go along with a career-high five steals in a 116-95 victory against the Grizzlies.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference T-Mobile Rookies of the Month were the Los Angeles Clipper's Al Thornton, Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young, Seattle's Kevin Durant and Toronto's Jamario Moon.

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March 3, 2008 6:00 AM

NBA Power Rankings

Posted by Percy Allen

Each week we take a look at the NBA and rank the teams in order every Monday morning. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

Rank

Team (Previous rank)

Comment

1.

Detroit (1):

Former Kentwood High star Rodney Stuckey made first NBA start in place of injured Chauncy Billups on Saturday and finished with nine points and five rebounds. Billups expected to return for Tuesday's game against Sonics.

2.

San Antonio (3):

14-3 with Manu Ginobili in the starting lineup. Damon Stoudamire, Kurt Thomas and newly signed Brent Barry give depth to the second highest scoring bench in the league. Nine-game winning streak is their longest this season.

3.

LA Lakers (2):

12-2 with Pau Gasol. Kobe Bryant scores 52 points Sunday in OT win over Dallas. He has 22 games of 50-plus points in his career, 17 behind Michael Jordan (39) and 96 behind Wilt Chamberlain (118). Loss at Portland drops them a spot in the rankings.

4.

Houston (4):

15-game winning streak ties franchise record from 1993-94 when they won the title. Yao MIng opts for surgery and hopes to return for the Beijing Olympics. Yao will miss at least 20 games in the last three seasons.

5.

Boston (7):

Adding P.J. Brown is nice, but Sam Cassell is a difference maker. Still not sure if they have anyone who can defend LeBron James and Billups.

6.

Cleveland (8):

LeBron is the youngest player to reach 10,000 points. Owner Dan Gilbert, who approved the trades two weeks ago, has the third highest payroll at $81.2M. He'll also pay a $13.3M luxury tax.

7.

Dallas (10):

Coach Avery Johnson, an admitted control freak, has reluctanlty relinquinshed the reins of the offense to Jason Kidd, who is calling his own plays. Still Johnson made a big mistake benching Kidd for the last possession in loss at San Antonio.

8.

New Orleans (9):

If playoffs ended today, they would face Phoenix. 4-0 against the Suns. Sellout crowds in four of past six games. Averaging 16,258 in past six games. Need to average 15,174 to void the opt-out clause for next season.

9

Utah (5):

Only division leader with a losing road record. Just 13-19 away from Salt Lake City. Last road win against playoff-bound team was Jan. 27 at Houston.

10.

Golden State (13):

Easy week with three home wins against Seattle, Philadelphia and Portland. If playoffs ended today, they would play San Antonio. They are 2-0 vs. Spurs.

11.

Orlando (12):

Dwight Howard has seven games of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. Hedo Turkoglu is third in fourth-quarter scoring behind Lebron and Kobe..

12.

Toronto (11):

Chris Bosh (sore knee) will sit out at least three games as the Raptors travel to Charlotte, Orlando and Miami.

13.

Denver (14):

Contending with Dallas and Phoenix for PG Tyronn Lue. Still 1 1/2 games behind Golden State for the eighth playoff spot. Just 23 games left.

14:

Philadelphia (15):

Big wins against Phoenix and Orlando. 11-1 in the second game of their last 12 back-to-back situations.

15.

Phoenix (6):

It's not working. 2-4 with Shaq. Just 6-13 against the top nine teams in the West. They've given up at least 120 points in 4 of 10 games w/o Shawn Marion.

16.

Washington (20):

3-1 last week with two big wins against New Orleans. All-Star Caron Butler has a torn muscle in left hip and there's no timetable for his return.

17.

Portland (18):

After failing to acquire Kidd, Devin Harris and Jose Calderon, Brandon Roy may have to switch full time to point guard next season to make room for newcomer Rudy Fernandez.

18.

New Jersey (17):

3-3 without Kidd. Devin Harris is happy to be away from Johnson. Said Johnson: "He likes absolute control, and he likes to run things a certain way."

19.

Indiana (25):

Dunleavy finally reaching his potential. He's scored 36 and 34 points respectively in past two games. Former Pistons G Flip Murray spurns LA Clippers and signed with Pacers.

20.

Atlanta (24):

GM Billy Knight reportedly wanted to fire Coach Mike Woodson at the trade deadline, but owners said no. Only 8 of their remaining 25 opponents have winning records.

21.

Sacramento (16):

It's time to bench Brad Miller and Mikki Moore and give their minutes to former Seattle Prep and Washington Husky star Spencer Hawes and Shelden Williams. Returned from 1-4 road trip and beat Miami at home on Sunday.

22.

Chicago (19):

After the three-team, 11-player trade, Bulls are the youngest team in the NBA with an average age of 24 years and 138 days. Why is Thabo Sefalosha starting? Four reserves average at least 11 points.

23.

New York (26):

Isiah Thomas reportedly tells injured Stephon Marbury to stay away from Knicks home games and prohibits him from talking to the media.

24.

Charlotte (28):

Draft mates Chris Paul and Deron Willimas are headed to the playoffs, but PG Raymond Felton is quietly putting together a solid sophomore season. He's averaging 14.1 points and 6.9 assists.

25.

Milwaukee (23):

Just when it looks like they've gained some momentum, they lose three straight. With Yao injured, Yi Jianlian is the biggest Chinese attraction in the league.

26.

Miami (30):

Just 2-8 since trade for Marion. Pat Riley hints that he'll shut Wade down soon. Riles said: "We've got to take care of our best asset."

27.

Sonics (22):

Started the longest road trip of the season with an OT win in Minnesota on Sunday for their sixth road win. G/F Mickael Gelabale appears to be backsliding in past couple of games.

28.

LA Clippers (21):

Forward Al Thornton will likely pulloff an upset and break Kevin Durant's streak of three Rookie of the Month awards. Thornton averaged 17.4 points in February and Durant had 18.1.

29.

Memphis (27):

8-game losing streak is the longest of the season and the longest since they started the 2002-03 season 0-13. Mike Miller (sore back) has missed the past six games and should return Wednesday.

30.

Minnesota (27):

Antoine Walker, who was hoping for a trade or a buyout, has been a no-show for the past couple of games. Walker makes $9.3M next season.

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March 1, 2008 1:42 PM

Congrats Szczerbiak

Posted by Jayda Evans

Former Sonic Wally Szczerbiak is missing tonight's game with his new Cleveland Cavaliers to be with wife, Shannon, for the scheduled C-Section birth of son Maximus. It's the New York-based couple's third child, first boy.

Szczerbiak, who turns 31 on Wednesday, is averaging 11.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 34 minutes in three games with the Cavs. Cleveland has gone 1-2 with him in the rotation.

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March 1, 2008 1:24 PM

Kerr calling out Presti

Posted by Jayda Evans

Many pointed out the obvious connections in Sonics GM Sam Presti's trade moves this season. He was mentored by Cleveland GM Danny Ferry and Presti came from San Antonio, so it was little coincidence that he worked deals with both teams to give vet Kurt Thomas a chance at a playoff run (Spurs) and dump pricey contracts (Wally Szczerbiak) and malcontent Delonte West on the Cavs.

But in the mix was Brent Barry, a former Sonic the team bought out and many others were pursuing in their playoff push. One was Phoenix and now that Barry apparently will re-sign with San Antonio later this month, Suns GM Steve Kerr is wondering whether Presti did a little backstabbing. Read more here.

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Recent entries

Mar 31, 08 - 06:39 PM
April Fools prank?

Mar 31, 08 - 06:00 AM
NBA Power Rankings

Mar 30, 08 - 05:45 PM
Sacramento game thread

Mar 28, 08 - 06:45 PM
Bobcats game thread

Mar 27, 08 - 09:10 PM
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