As if tumbling along a roulette wheel, the ball bounced between Rashard Lewis, Vladimir Radmanovic and Antonio Daniels before finding its way to Luke Ridnour in the final minute of Friday's loss to Phoenix.
As if tumbling along a roulette wheel, the ball bounced between Rashard Lewis, Vladimir Radmanovic and Antonio Daniels before finding its way to Luke Ridnour in the final minute of the Sonics’ 112-110 loss to Phoenix on Friday.
Seattle was trailing by three points with 44.4 seconds left when coach Nate McMillan replaced Reggie Evans with Ridnour.
Lewis and Radmanovic missed three-pointers, and Daniels drove the middle with less than 15 seconds left. With Ray Allen and Lewis covered, Ridnour was the only Sonic left undefended. Daniels passed him the ball, not knowing that Ridnour hadn’t converted a three-pointer in two weeks and had missed 22 of his previous 26 shots.
And McMillan said yesterday that, even though Ridnour missed a 25-foot jumper that might have tied the score with 11.9 seconds left, it was important that his second-year point guard took what could have been the biggest shot of his young career.
“If you have the opportunity, take advantage of it because that’s where you learn,” McMillan said. “That’s where you get your comfort zone from. Take that shot and never forget how it feels, whether you make it or you don’t. That’s where you grow up at.
“When you’re placed in situations like that, you have to either lead or you fail. But either way, you grow up a little bit.”
McMillan likened Ridnour’s late-game attempt Friday to Radmanovic’s dramatic three-pointer in the closing seconds against Utah on Dec. 1 that forced overtime and allowed the Sonics to claim a comeback victory.
“You don’t get better if you don’t take it,” McMillan said. “What’s that saying, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take? He has to take that. I want him to take it. I think it’s important for him to take it, because if he doesn’t, it just puts more focus on Ray and Rashard.
“The last two games it hasn’t fallen for him. I’ve seen nights where he has been comfortable and nights where he’s a little hesitant when that stroke isn’t going. For a young guy, that will come when you feel: ‘Even if I miss my first five or didn’t have a good first half, it doesn’t matter and my next shot will go in.’ “
In his second season, Ridnour has seemingly mastered the playmaking part of his job. He leads the Sonics with 6.2 assists and has had at least 10 assists in five games.
Where he still struggles is on the scoring side, averaging 8.7 points per game. Six times he has had fewer than four points, and only once has he made more than two three-pointers in a game.
“Just keep shooting,” McMillan said. “That’s the only way to become a good shooter.”
Lewis (left ankle sprain) and Evans (upper respiratory infection) did not participate in yesterday’s light workout. The Sonics will take today off and resume practice tomorrow morning.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com