Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM
| July 9, 2007
Kevin Durant's second game in the NBA Summer League started very differently than his first. Durant, who missed his first five shots on Friday, hit a three-pointer on the first possession for the Seattle SuperSonics Monday night against New York. From there, however, the Knicks used much the same playbook as Dallas did on Friday, using physical defense to force Durant into contested shots.
Durant shot 4-for-19 from the field, and with their go-to player unable to get good looks, the Sonics could not score in the second quarter. They mustered just 14 points in the period as New York went on runs of 7-0, 8-0 and 9-0. The Knicks took an 18-point lead to halftime and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way, winning 87-74.
"I played okay. I felt like I could have done a lot more."
This being summer league, however, the outcome takes on secondary importance as compared to individual performances. In that regard, the Sonics got a very good sign in the play of Jeff Green. The No. 5 overall pick, acquired from Boston in a Draft-night trade, scored 17 points. His performance was highlighted by a powerful dunk finish with a foul over New York guard Nate Robinson.
"I played okay," downplayed Green after the game, more concerned with his team's loss. "I could have done a lot of things better, like pursue rebounds better or help my teammates to get open shots. I felt like I could have done a lot more."
After his first shot of the game, Durant could not find an open look. He made just one field goal between the three-pointer and the start of the fourth quarter. It was only in the final period that Durant found a rhythm, getting to the free-throw line six times (he was 8-for-8 at the charity stripe on the evening) and scoring 11 of his 18 points.
I think I could have done a little better," said Durant. "I could have shot the ball better, I could have rebounded better.
"I can't get down on myself. Everybody has bad games. I've just got to keep playing."
As a team, the Sonics shot 37.7% and had 26 turnovers. They were boosted by the return of MickaŽl Gelabale, who missed Friday's summer opener with a sprained ankle. Gelabale scored 10 points and pulled in seven rebounds, but the Sonics had no other player with more than six points. Jermaine Jackson, who started at point guard, was the only player on the team with multiple assists (three) as the Sonics handed out seven on 23 baskets.
"Things are not falling for us," said Green. "We've got to try to connect more on our shots, try to help each other get offensive rebounds."
Seattle native and UW product Nate Robinson led the Knicks with a flair for the dramatic. Playing point guard, the two-year NBA vet went for style. That produced its share of miscues - Robinson had seven of New York's 27 turnovers - but also some highlight-reel plays, including a 360 in transition that resulted in a layup. Robinson led all scorers with 19 points and also handed out a game-high seven assists. All five New York starters and reserve Brian Greene scored in double-figures.
Looking to get their offense going, the Sonics will practice Tuesday before returning to NBA Summer League Action Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. against Milwaukee.
"You have to play hard every night," said Durant. "That's what we're adjusting to right now. Hopefully next game we come out harder."