Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM
| July 6, 2007
The Dallas Mavericks welcomed Seattle SuperSonics rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green to the NBA by reminding them of the difficulty of the professional game. In their professional debuts, Durant and Green combined for 25 points but shot just 7-of-23 from the field as the Mavericks defeated the Sonics 77-66 in their NBA Summer League opener at Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus.
All eyes were on Durant, the No. 2 pick of last Thursday's NBA Draft, as he took to an NBA court for the first time. The Sonics featured Durant in their offense and he was successfully able to create shots using the combination of his ballhandling ability and his 6-10 size. Finishing them proved more challenging. Durant missed his first five shots and had his first attempt blocked by DeSagana Diop.
"I started out a little slow, but my teammates picked me up and I was able to score a bit."
Following the slow start, Durant showed off the skills that made him such a coveted prospect after one season of NCAA basketball at Texas. Most impressive was a play in the post where Durant got his defender in the air and spun, stepping through for a runner which hit nothing but net.
Durant finished with a game-high 18 points, shooting 5-for-17 from the field but 7-of-9 at the free-throw line.
"I started out a little slow," said Durant afterwards, "but my teammates picked me up and I was able to score a bit."
Green, taken fifth by Boston before being traded to the Sonics on the night of the Draft, scored both of his buckets early. He finished with seven points and shot 2-for-6 from the field. Green took advantage of the liberal rules regarding fouls in the NBA Summer League - players are allowed 10 fouls - to commit eight in 29 minutes of action.
The Sonics shot 33.9% from the field and two other starters - veteran Johan Petro and undrafted rookie Zabian Dowdell - shot 1-for-7 from the field apiece. Guard Julius Hodge rounded out the starting lineup and was very productive, scoring 14 points and adding 10 rebounds. Hodge got to the free-throw line 10 times, converting eight of those attempts.
On the other side, Dallas was led by their backcourt of Maurice Ager (17 points on 7-for-13 shooting) and Jose Juan Barea (14 points, nine assists and no turnovers in 26 minutes). Ager was hot early, while Barea controlled the game throughout from the point.
The Sonics rallied in the fourth quarter, with reserve forward Kenny Adeleke (a 2006 training-camp invitee) playing a key role in an 8-0 run that got the Sonics within nine and compelled Dallas Coach Popeye Jones to get Ager, Barea and the rest of his starters back in the game. That was the last time the Sonics would get within double-figures.
For the team's new stars, Friday wasn't perfect, but it was a start.
"It was good," said Durant. "I was glad to finally get back out on the court and under the whistle. Unfortunately, we lost, but we'll come out hard the next game."
Sonics swingman MickaŽl Gelabale did not play because of a sprained ankle.