Sometimes, the repetitive thumps with a balled-up right fist to the left side of his chest are to wake him up. Sort of to shock Rashard Lewis into a game. At other times, though...
DALLAS Sometimes, the repetitive thumps with a balled-up right fist to the left side of his chest are to wake him up. Sort of to shock Rashard Lewis into a game.
At other times, though, the Sonics forward said he uses the motion to symbolize that he has heart. But last night, the thumps were harder, almost painful to watch as the game progressed. That’s because a new meaning emerged.
“It was showing that I’m coming and (teams) are not going to stop me,” he said.
The Dallas Mavericks tried and failed. As the once 15-point Sonics lead shrunk to 101-100 with 1:25 remaining in the game, Lewis’ brown eyes blazed determination.
He made a three-pointer after his defender got clogged in the paint. And later made two free throws to help the Sonics defeat the Mavericks 107-102 at American Airlines Center, snapping a five-game losing streak against Dallas.
“Rashard is playing like a man possessed,” said Sonics guard Ray Allen of Lewis, who scored 13 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter. “He’s on a mission.”
After last night’s game, the Sonics (17-3) were again barraged with questions of their legitimacy. Some media members were even swayed toward believing in Seattle now that the season is about a quarter complete.
They, like the Sonics’ opponents, wanted to figure out how the team is winning. Offense was thrown out to the masses, backed by the Sonics shooting 57.9 percent in the second quarter to build a 15-point lead. Muffled by the soothing sound of shots swishing through the net is Lewis’ growing voice as a co-captain in the locker room.
“I watched an interview with Kevin Garnett, talked with (Buffalo Bill) Lawyer Milloy because we have the same agent, and Ray (Allen), and they all said pretty much the same things,” Lewis said. “The team only goes as far as the captain leads them. This year I had to be more vocal. And it was easier to do because it’s more like a family. It’s easier to say something when you know guys are going to listen.”
Teammates also watch. And when Lewis felt he was fouled by Mavericks center Erick Dampier in the fourth quarter, he kept his cool, knowing it was a critical moment with his team clinging to a 91-87 advantage.
“In the past, I would have got a tech (technical foul),” said Lewis, in his sixth season. “But the referee said I had five seconds to walk away. I turned my back and walked away.”
The Sonics, facing a similar situation as they did the night before in San Antonio, were facing increased pressure from the Mavericks. And, once again, Seattle had an anemic third quarter, making 6 of 20 shots as Dallas closed the gap to 80-73.
In the fourth quarter, the Mavericks finally took the lead (87-86) after a three-point play by Dirk Nowitzki and two Jerry Stackhouse free throws. But Lewis and forward Vladimir Radmanovic responded with buckets as the Sonics took the lead for good.
Dallas went on to miss three three-point attempts and simply couldn’t overcome the Sonics’ aggressive play.
At one point, the Mavericks resorted to complaining about the Sonics’ style of play after 6-foot-2 guard Luke Ridnour was caught underneath Nowitzki, a 7-footer, on a rebound, causing the latter to crash to the court and bruise his back.
“Luke was just in a bad place,” guard Antonio Daniels said. “A year ago we were soft, so … we just have to be who we are and play how we play. Sometimes we’re aggressive, but we don’t have anybody in this league that’s a malicious person.”
Ridnour, who was confronted by Michael Finley after the incident, said he talked to Nowitzki afterward and the two are “cool.”
“I didn’t mean to undercut him,” he said. “I told him I didn’t mean it. To get two in a row is good. To come off the game (Wednesday) and show we can win again is good. Rashard hit some big shots.”
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|The Sonics’ hot start|
|Last night’s win put their record at 17-3, the second-best mark after 20 games in franchise history.|
|*Won NBA championship.|