Seattle has always been a peculiar place. Proud of its individuality, some laugh when an outsider has tried to peg the liquid-drenched city. And none has offered a bigger chuckle...
SAN ANTONIO Seattle has always been a peculiar place. Proud of its individuality, some laugh when an outsider has tried to peg the liquid-drenched city.
And none has offered a bigger chuckle than the season’s sports teams. Like soap in a bath, the area’s professional teams have squirted out of prognosticators’ hands as they’ve tried to shelve them into a certain dish. On Monday, it was the Seahawks plopping out of Super Bowl-hopeful status in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Last night, it was the Sonics refusing to be caught in the drain most are waiting for the team to swirl down.
Guard Antonio Daniels swished a three-pointer through the net with 1:09 remaining in the game to zap the energy out of SBC Center, preserving a 102-96 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Sonics (16-3) remain tied with the Suns as the NBA’s best team after handing the Spurs (16-4) their first home loss in 21 games. San Antonio started the streak against the Sonics, defeating them 88-84 in March.
“I didn’t know it was 21 games,” said forward Rashard Lewis, whose Sonics are the only remaining unbeaten team at home (9-0). “This kind of win tells what type of team we are, and it’s going to slowly give us respect in this league.”
Although in a bustling locker room after the game, the team wasn’t searching for recognition. Guard Ray Allen gathered his teammates together on the court in a team tradition and tweaked the post-game chat.
They had just defeated the majority preseason pick to win the NBA title for the second time this season. It’s a feat that had forward Vladimir Radmanovic jumping into the huddle and guard Mateen Cleaves teasing forward Reggie Evans, but Allen wanted to be sure the group didn’t euphorically sail away.
“I wanted them to remember what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” said Allen, who scored a team-high 29 points. “We kept our composure. We could have broke apart and lost that game.
“Right now on this team guys are just playing stubborn. Guys like Antonio Daniels come out and are not surprised to score (14) points, he expects to score (14). It’s that stubbornness that makes us good.”
The Sonics couldn’t be more mulish than in the second half.
They used their strong shooting to build a 19-point lead in the opening half, and they said they knew the final two quarters would have a different feel when the Spurs took all of their allotted time to return from the locker room.
“You know Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) laid into them,” Daniels said.
The Spurs started the third quarter on a 17-6 run behind Tim Duncan’s aggressive play, holding the Sonics to 25 percent shooting for the entire quarter. In the Sonics’ November win against San Antonio, Duncan was 1 for 9 in the first half. But last night he finished with a game-high 39 points, looking like he wanted redemption for his team’s worst loss of the season (113-94).
Yet, after Duncan’s free throw dwindled the Sonics’ lead to 68-64 with 2:52 remaining in the quarter, the Sonics surged back to double the lead entering the fourth quarter.
San Antonio was down 83-81 midway through the fourth, but Allen made a three-pointer off an offensive rebound to keep Seattle ahead. Later, when Daniels hit his three-pointer, fans started trickling out of the building to further signify the Spurs’ defeat.
While Duncan had a strong night, making 14 of 24 shots, his team gave up 15 points on 14 turnovers and couldn’t recover from being outscored 29-12 in the second quarter.
“They made their shots all game,” said Spurs forward Malik Rose, who scored 10 points off the bench. “They have been doing it to everyone in the league all season long.”
More impressive than the Sonics’ offense or their ability to capitalize on the Spurs’ poor defense was Seattle’s composure in a tight second half before a rowdy crowd on the road after three days off.
Lewis took no time to answer a question on whether the Sonics of old would have come out with a win in a similar situation.
Never mind that last night’s victory, the Sonics’ first in San Antonio since January 2000, already answered the query.
“(I don’t) think so because it was a young team,” he said. “There was no doubt in my mind we’d win (last night). We had the lead the whole time, and as long as we have the lead, I felt we could win.”
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|The Sonics are tied for the best record in the NBA. The top four:|
|San Antonio Spurs||16-4||.800|
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