Live From The Press Box - Sonics at San Antonio
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Sonics Win! Sonics Win! Sonics Win!
Posted at 10:07 p.m.


I don't mean to get ridiculous or anything, but this has to be one of the better regular-season wins in the history of the Sonics franchise. Look at all the conditions - on the road in front of a sellout crowd, going against a team that had won eight in a row and 21 straight games at home. The result - a 102-96 victory, the Sonics 16th of the season. I am beyond impressed. Be sure to check out FSN Live on TV or the Sonics Postgame Show with David Locke on KJR 950 AM. And tune in tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. Seattle time as the Sonics look for another huge win at the American Airlines Center against the Dallas Mavericks, who are 13-7.

In Control?
Posted at 10:00 p.m.


What a horrible time to have to restart my laptop! An Antonio Daniels three with 1:09 to play gave the Sonics a 96-87 lead they maintain with 48.3 seconds to play, along with possession. This place has nearly emptied out, Spurs fans conceding the end of a 21-game home winning streak that was one off the longest in franchise history. A Sonics win would not only give them the best record in the NBA at 16-3, it would make them the only remaining NBA team undefeated at home. I can't even put into words how incredible this ballgame has been. Ray Allen, with 27 points, has been phenomenal, as have many of his teammates. But an underrated part of tonight's win will be the cameraderie of the Sonics, which Nate McMillan referenced before the game. The Sonics bench was standing for every key play, while the Spurs bench - including starting center Rasho Nesterovic and former Sonics guard Brent Barry, neither of whom has seen almost any minutes tonight - has not been nearly as lively.

Quick Note
Posted at 9:48 p.m.


My boss would dock my pay if I didn’t note that assistant coach Bob Weiss is wearing the so-called “stoplight tie” tonight. To my knowledge, the only other time he’s broken it out this season was Opening Night against Atlanta. The Sonics come up with a big shot-clock violation and lead 88-81 with possession with 5:14 to play.

Sonics Responding
Posted at 9:45 p.m.


As we go to the under-six minutes timeout, the Sonics have answered San Antonio’s run for a big momentum shift. Devin Brown left Ray Allen alone for a split second and Allen buried a three, and Danny Fortson’s now heading to the free-throw line. It’s not a coincidence that the Spurs crowd is no longer as loud as it was at the last timeout.

Testing the Sonics
Posted at 9:40 p.m.


Nate McMillan is usually loathe to put any extra meaning on a game, but he did so before tonight’s game, saying it, Dallas on the back end of the back-to-back tomorrow and Boston on Saturday would tell him a lot about how good his team is. Well, Nate got exactly the crucible he expected at the SBC Center. With 8:21 to play, the Sonics lead 83-78 with Tim Duncan going to the free-throw line. On the road, in front of a loud crowd, against the team generally regarded as the NBA’s best, how will the Sonics respond?

Duncan is truly playing like a superstar tonight, with 33 points and nine rebounds. Through three quarters, he was an unstoppable 11-for-16 from the field.

Fortson Factor
Posted at 9:27 p.m.


Long-time readers know that The Fortson Factor – Danny Fortson’s impact when he checks into a game – is a Live From The Press Box favorite. It has rarely been more in evidence than late in the third quarter, as Fortson made 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch. That, combined with a Luke Ridnour off-balance, off-glass score, allowed the Sonics to escape the third quarter with a 76-68 lead. The Sonics are 14-1 this season when they lead going into the final period.

If You’re a Spurs Fan
Posted at 9:20 p.m.


… there are two ways to look at the third quarter. One is to say that your team’s defense is good enough to shut down the best offense in the league – completely shut them down – for virtually an entire quarter. The other is, how in earth did we give up 60 points in the first half? If the Spurs can play like this for entire games in the playoffs, they’ll likely win the championship so many experts predicted for them at the start of the season.

Some SBC Center Observations
Posted at 9:15 p.m.


The oddest thing about this arena … multicolored seats. Every couple of seats, you see one colored purple or green or orange. When the arena is full, this isn’t noticeable, but when you’re in here when it’s all empty, it’s an odd sight. … There’s signage seemingly everywhere. The most dramatic example is the “KRAFT Fan Fiesta” sign that dominates one baseline, hanging from the rafters. It features a basketball player, the spur in the Spurs logo and a man riding his horse in a rodeo, all lit up in white lights. The Fan Fiesta itself is a series of kids activities behind a few rows of seats on the 200 level. It’s pretty neat. … Again, my only comparison is KeyArena, but the concourses here are enormous, which allows for a lot more fan activities.

Also, this place gets incredibly loud when the Spurs are in the midst of a 22-8 run, also known as the third quarter thus far. It’s impossible to watch the first half and third quarter and think that these are the same two teams.

AD’s Impact
Posted at 9:05 p.m.


Nate McMillan makes precisely the lineup change I was thinking in my head – Antonio Daniels for Reggie Evans, to dramatically improve the Sonics ballhandling against the San Antonio pressure – and it pays immediate dividends, as Daniels gets to the free-throw line and hits one of two to momentarily quell the Spurs run. More important long-term, it’s the fifth foul on San Antonio, meaning the Sonics will be going to the line when the Spurs get too aggressive over the next six minutes.

Factual Error
Posted at 9:00 p.m.


Turns out the Sonics 60 first-half points aren’t particularly close to a season opponent high for the Spurs – they’ve given up 67 points in a half. To whom, you ask? Your Seattle SuperSonics, that’s who. The Sonics got 67 in the second half on San Antonio in Seattle last month. How could I have forgotten? Ray Allen’s 19 first-half points were, however, the most surrendered by the Spurs to an opposing player in a half.

The Sonics are off to a slow start to the second half, as San Antonio has really ratcheted up their defensive intensity. They’re pressing Ray Allen fullcourt and have forced the Sonics to go deep into the shot clock on each possession. One of two Sonics scores (both by Rashard Lewis) came only after the Spurs had forced Allen to chase down the ball in backcourt with seven seconds left on the shot clock.

Ready for the Second Half
Posted at 8:55 p.m.


After a healthy halftime snack – a hot dog and some tortilla chips – I’m back in Section 127. Slice of my life note: I waited in line at the buffet with the Spurs Dance Team.

Sonics Take the Lead to the Locker Room
Posted at 8:37 p.m.


Luke Ridnour concludes a phenomenal first half with a phenomenal play, slithering between two defenders for a layup with less than a second left to play. The Sonics post 60 points in the first half – I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s a Spurs opponent season high, though I don’t have my game notes with me – and shoot 58.5% from the field. San Antonio is at just 38.5%.

Baseline Bums
Posted at 8:32 p.m.


We’re sitting in front of a group of fans known as the “Baseline Bums” here at the SBC Center. It’s known as a pretty rowdy group, and virtually everyone is wearing black. However, their noise has been a little disappointing tonight. Of course, it’s not every night the Spurs trail by 19 points. Can I say that enough? I don’t think so. Incidentally, Nick Collison has played most of this quarter, spent most of it defending Tim Duncan, and has six points and two rebounds. The performance of Collison continues to be more and more encouraging by the day.

Allen On Fire
Posted at 8:27 p.m.


The aforementioned Tim Duncan has 15 points thus far, as the Sonics have not been nearly as successful shutting him down as last time, but he’s been outplayed by Ray Allen. The Sonics guard – subject of a Seattle Times story about his shooting slump on Monday – has a game-high 17 points and is going to the free-throw line after being fouled on a fast-break dunk attempt. Great hustle play by Robert Horry to catch Allen from behind and block his dunk, though he was called for a foul. As a Sonics employee, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous when Allen was hit in midair.

Things I Never Thought I’d Hear
Posted at 8:24 p.m.


A fan behind us to (two-time MVP) Tim Duncan: “Stop trying to do it by yourself!”

Of course I can’t say I really ever thought I’d see the Sonics lead by 17 in the second quarter in the SBC Center against the 16-3 Spurs either. This is difficult to believe.

We’re Not in Seattle Anymore …
Posted at 8:20 p.m.


The male and female stick figures on the bathroom doors here are wearing cowboy hats. I’m pretty sure this is one of the five or six funniest things I’ve seen in my life.

Running
Posted at 8:15 p.m.


Okay, Spurs fans probably figured, the Sonics can outshoot us for a quarter, but we’ll end this madness in the second quarter. Nuh-uh. The Sonics have started the second quarter on a 12-2 run (that’s in four and a half minutes, folks) and now have their largest lead of the night – 12 points. Incredible.

A Quarter In
Posted at 8:03 p.m.


Well, I’ve spent most of my first quarter trying to get my internet connection properly configured, but I wasn’t working so hard that I couldn’t pay attention to the game. The Sonics have taken it right out at the Spurs – Nate McMillan’s pregame message was to be the aggressor – and they hold a 31-29 lead after one quarter. The Sonics have shot 59.1% from the field, and both teams have been hot from downtown. San Antonio is staying right with the Sonics by virtue of not committing a turnover in the first quarter.

It is Loud!
Posted at 7:45 p.m.


In this case, I don’t mean the fans. One of the things I’ve noticed watching the Sonics, amongst others, play in Dallas and San Antonio is that both teams play music while the game is in progress – not ‘motivational’ music, like “Here we go, Home Team, here we go,” but actual pop songs – Lil’ Jon is a particular favorite. Beyond that, the PA and the sound system seems incredibly loud here. Maybe I’m just used to the noise at KeyArena, but this seems to be on a totally different level.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that most of our readers have never been in the SBC Center, so I’ll try and share notes like this throughout the evening (and, with that, the music starts blaring).

Dateline: San Antonio
Posted at 7:39 p.m.


Your Seattle SuperSonics are in a showdown with the San Antonio Spurs at the SBC Center in a game featuring the two teams with the best records in the NBA (granted, Phoenix is tied with the Sonics at 15-3) and yours truly is on the scene, producing the first road Live From The Press Box in SUPERSONICS.COM history (and thus, presumably, the history of the world). We should have a lot of fun notes to share, so, uh, go up if you’ve started in chronological order at the bottom.