New-Look Sonics Rout Jazz for Second Straight
Seattle 113, Utah 94
SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 25 (Ticker) -- Bob Hill is making some changes as coach of the Seattle SuperSonics. Meanwhile, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis maintain their All-Star form.
Allen and Lewis took turns carrying the offense in a decisive first half as the SuperSonics put together wins for the first time in more than a month with a 113-94 victory over the Utah Jazz.
"It's not a different style that we're trying to get out on the floor, it's just that Bob Hill is just very particular about every single thing," Allen said. "He took where we were, he saw some deficiencies when he took the reins, and he just took us over the top and made sure he made us all accountable for what we were doing."
Thus far, Hill has made a switch at power forward, starting Vladimir Radmanovic ahead of Reggie Evans, who has requested a trade. Radmanovic has started 11 straight games, averaging 12.3 points, including 22 in a team-high 53 minutes in Sunday's double-overtime win at Phoenix.
"I was going to give him 10 games, and then evaluate from there," Hill said. "His 10th game was Phoenix, and he played awfully well, so he earned another one tonight. He played good again tonight, so I think he's getting it, and thank God, because he makes such a difference for our team."
The coach also has begun to give minutes to young big men Robert Swift, a teenager in his second season, and Johan Petro, a 19-year-old rookie from France.
"Offensively, this team has to play (a fast-paced style). They have to get out and run and share the ball because we're fast," Hill said. "Especially with Robert Swift and Johan Petro both of those guys can really run, so that's a big plus for us."
"They've been big, they're making shots difficult, if not blocking them, and they're scoring down there," Seattle point guard Luke Ridnour said. "When they get the ball, they're making something happen and being aggressive."
Seattle has looked sharper of late, averaging 126 points in its last three games. Its porous defense still needs improvement, but the offense appears to be clicking.
"You have to give the players a lot of credit because it's definitely different than the way we were playing before," Hill said. "It's at the other end of the spectrum. It takes commitment on their part and a lot of concentration."
The changes would not be possible without the steady play of Allen and Lewis, both of whom made the All-Star Game last season. They combined to score 27 points in the first half as the Sonics shot 51 percent (22-of-43) from the floor and opened a 55-39 lead.
"The thing that helps Ray and Rashard the most is the way we're playing because there's more shots," Hill said. "The way we're playing now, we have the capability of all five (positions) being able to help. Our centers can supplement their points because they can run, so it takes a little bit of that scoring load off of Ray and Rashard."
Allen, who made eight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtimes of Sunday's win, retained his touch with three shots from the arc and 13 points in the first period as Seattle built a 28-18 advantage.
Lewis, who has led the Sonics in scoring six times this month, tallied 12 in the second quarter to help increase the margin.
"Offensively, for us, we wanted to keep it moving, go up and down the floor and try to get easy buckets," Allen said. "We were able to run early on and keep the ball moving."
After halftime, Seattle led by double digits for all but 19 seconds. Damien Wilkins scored seven of his 15 points in the third quarter, which ended with the Sonics holding an 82-64 lead.
Ridnour had 17 points and seven assists for Seattle, which had six scorers in double figures. Splitting the center position, Swift and Petro combined for 12 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.
"We've been saying for the longest time that this team is more than just myself and Rashard," Allen said. "Luke has stepped up and played well. ... Robert Swift has definitely shown a presence, as well as Johan and Damien Wilkins."
Andrei Kirilenko had 24 points and 10 rebounds and Mehmet Okur added 20 and 13 for the Jazz, who have lost five of their last seven games. Utah allowed Seattle to shoot 53 percent (47-of-89) and was outrebounded, 42-37.
"The loss wasn't one guy's fault. We did a terrible job altogether trying to defend them," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "If they wanted layups, they got them. If they wanted to penetrate ... If they wanted to drive and kick, they did."