Lewis, Evans Help Sonics Stop the Jazz
Seattle 106, Utah 90
SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 9 (Ticker)-- Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko says he is improving with each game. That wasn't enough to stop the Seattle SuperSonics' frontcourt duo of Rashard Lewisand Reggie Evans.
Lewis scored 26 points and snagged a career-high seven steals and Evans grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds as the SuperSonics used a huge second half to coast to a 106-90 victory over the Jazz.
"We looked like the old Sonics tonight, last year's Sonics," Evans said. "Everybody finding each other for open looks that's Sonics basketball. It felt good tonight."
The win was especially sweet for the Sonics (9-9), who were upset at home November 22 by a shorthanded Jazz team that was missing Kirilenko and fellow forward Matt Harpring. They didn't overlook Utah this time around as they reached the .500 mark with their fourth win in five games.
"We felt like we should have won the game up there in our place," Sonics guard Ray Allen said. "I think we took them for granted, having Kirilenko and Harpring out of the game, but they played a good game. Tonight we just needed to focus in on what we needed to do."
Kirilenko, who missed seven games in November with a sprained right ankle, has been worked back into the rotation over the last two weeks and had 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. But while he said the ankle no longer bothers him, he was frustrated with the end result.
"I'm getting better every game, from my standpoint," he said. "I feel much better, I feel healthy, I can run the floor, I can play much better defense. (But) it doesn't help us. I don't think I played on the same level that Seattle played."
Friday's game was tied, 37-37, early in the second quarter before the Sonics went on a 15-4 run and effectively took control for good. Vladimir Radmanovic, who came off the bench to score 12 of his 17 points in the second period, closed the surge with a 3-pointer to give Seattle a 52-41 lead.
"They executed and we didn't, but we didn't respond. I think that was the biggest thing. We didn't respond tonight," Jazz guard Milt Palacio said. "There were a lot of guys with long faces thinking it was over already, and it was only in the second quarter."
"They got so many easy buckets (early on), which allowed them to have their way with us," said Allen, who scored 19 points. "But we still managed to keep a lead in the first half, and by the second half, we took the lead all the way."
The Sonics kept the Jazz at arm's length for the rest of the game, holding a double-digit advantage for the entire second half and pushing the lead as high as 24 points.
Utah rookie Deron Williams' driving layup midway through the third period cut the deficit to 69-59, but Seattle answered with an 11-2 run to take a commanding 80-61 lead.
Early on, it looked to be a shootout as both offenses came out firing. Lewis had 12 points in the first quarter, and Jazz guard Devin Brown had 10 as Seattle took a 31-29 lead. But once the Sonics' defense tightened up, that was the difference.
"That's what helped us win the ballgame tonight," Lewis said. "We were scoring when we wanted to, but they were scoring also. Once we started playing defense, we were able to separate ourselves."
"They just had us totally confused as to what we were trying to do," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Everything we tried to do offensively, they had us confused. ... It looked like we took them lightly tonight."
Evans had seven rebounds on the offensive glass, helping Seattle to 25 second-chance points. His efforts helped the Sonics wear down the Jazz, who were outrebounded, 25-17, in the second half as they dropped to 3-8 at the Delta Center this season.
"I don't think we helped each other very well tonight, and that's why we lost," Kirilenko said. "We need to be aggressive everywhere not just on the boards, but on defense, on offense, and we need to pass the ball much better."
Luke Ridnour added 16 points, seven assists and seven rebounds and Flip Murray scored 12 points for the Sonics, who had lost nine of their last 10 visits here. Harpring scored 16 points and Jarron Collins added a season-high 13 for the Jazz.