Backup point guard won't play today at Utah but is planning to be ready to go for tomorrow's home game against Philadelphia.

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On one hand, the Sonics were thrilled to see Antonio Daniels return to practice yesterday. The backup point guard had been absent over the past week while recovering from a bout with pneumonia, bronchitis and acute tonsillitis.

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But on the other hand, few Sonics greeted him with open arms. Fearing that he’s still contagious, they tapped fists, an acknowledgment he shared with nearly every team member before they departed for a flight to Salt Lake City.

Daniels remained in Seattle yesterday and will not play in tonight’s game against Utah at the Delta Center. He plans to rejoin the squad tomorrow when the Sonics host the Philadelphia 76ers at KeyArena.

“It’s good seeing ‘Tonio, but at the same time you got to quarantine guys when they’re not right because you don’t want to get the whole team getting sick,” guard Ray Allen said. “I love Antonio and all, but during the season I don’t like being around people when they’re sick because it’s too important for me to be out there.”

Daniels woke up yesterday morning with conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, an infection of the outer layer of the pupil in both eyes.

His throat had been swollen, which didn’t allow him to eat and caused him to lose 5 to 10 pounds. Twice he visited the doctors who treated his fever, which soared to 104 degrees, with antibiotics.

“It was like every thing came at one time,” Daniels said. “I haven’t been sick in years, years and years. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been sick, I mean actually been sick. And last week, for four or five days straight, my temperature was like 104 then it would go down. It was a (bad) week. A real (bad) week.”

On Christmas night, Daniels drove to the team’s practice facility to shoot baskets and lift weights. Yesterday, he was out on the floor with the Sonics for the first time in a week.

His legs were weak. His timing was off, and it was clear that the Sonics were better with Ronald “Flip” Murray as their third guard.

In Seattle’s last game, a 98-83 victory against Denver on Wednesday, Murray scored a season-high 15 points and tallied five rebounds and four assists.

“Flip has been doing some of those same things that AD was doing,” Allen said. “One difference is with Flip it gives us a little bit more mystery because he hasn’t played that much. Teams don’t have a lot of game tape to scout him like they do with the rest of us.”

In a sense, the second season begins tonight for the Sonics.

After a flurry of games in November, the pace has slowed this month as they’ve built a 19-5 record, second best in the NBA to Phoenix (24-3).

“There’s all sorts of pockets in the schedule when you play, when you don’t play,” Allen said. “We had some time off, and now you look at the schedule and we got something like 10 games in 12 nights, which is crazy.”

Actually, the Sonics play 10 games in the next 17 days, and their sense of timing might be a little off after a recent stretch over which they played just three games in 15 days.

“It feels like we had a break and now, all of a sudden, these games are going to come back to us,” coach Nate McMillan said. “You have to flip that switch. You don’t have a choice.”

Said Allen: “We just have to find different ways to deal with it. Other teams have had their pockets, and the good teams are the ones that even if you catch them on a back-to-back, in the fourth quarter they find a way to pull it off.”

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com