Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM
| July 11, 2007
Playing almost entirely without their top two NBA Summer League scorers, No. 2 and No. 5 overall picks Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, the Seattle SuperSonics still put together their best performance of the summer. The Sonics led the Milwaukee Bucks much of the way Wednesday before fading in a 92-85 loss at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus.
The Sonics knew they would be without Durant, who had a previous commitment to attend the taping of the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. Early on, that meant the Sonics featured Green, who attempted six shots (making just one) in eight minutes. Late in the first quarter, he was taken out and the decision was made that Green's night was done because of tightness from a sprained ankle suffered Monday against New York.
Mouhamed Sene started and scored eight points.|
"I sprained it last game but kept playing," Green explained afterwards. "It kind of backfired on me, but I'll be good. I just need a day of rest."
While the sprain is not severe, there is little need to push the issue during summer league.
"If it was the season, it might have been a different story, but now I've got to rest up," Green said. "We've still got to finish up Vegas and then we've got Utah (the Rocky Mountain Revue). We still have a lot more games to play."
Without Durant, Green and swingman MickaŽl Gelabale (taking it easy on an ankle he sprained last week during practice), the Sonics were left with centers Johan Petro and Mouhamed Sene and a group of free agents, many of whom had not seen heavy action in the team's first two games. A lineup of Zabian Dowdell, Julius Hodge, Antywane Robinson, Ronnie Burrell and Johan Petro led a surge late in the first quarter that carried through much of the second quarter. The Sonics led by as many as 12 points in the second period.
"We had a lot of good effort from a lot of guys," said Sonics Summer League Head Coach Ralph Lewis. "Kenny Adeleke having a chance to start, had eight rebounds in the minutes that he played. Olu (Famutimi) hadn't played and started the game. We had a lot of effort from a lot of different guys - Antywane Robinson, Julius had a big effort off the bench. There's a lot of positives out there on the floor even though we didn't come away with the win."
The Bucks rallied in the second half behind the dominant play of former Sonics forward Noel Felix, who scored 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting, adding six rebounds. The Sonics still led by eight midway through the fourth quarter, but Damir Markota capped off a 14-4 run by hitting a three-pointer to give Milwaukee the lead. A Lynn Greer layup moments later gave the Bucks the lead for good, with Milwaukee scoring five straight points at the free-throw line.
"I thought in the second half we didn't do a really good job of taking care of the basketball, which was the difference in the game," said Lewis. "You have five turnovers in the first half and you have 19 total, so you have 14 in the second half. You just can't make those plays down the stretch in the fourth quarter. It hurt us. They were able to get in the game off penetration and made a couple of shots."
Despite the outcome, the Sonics had easily their best offensive showing of the summer thus far. After averaging 70 points in their first two games - 30 per game from the duo of Durant and Green - the Sonics scored 85 points, getting scoring from some surprising sources.
Hodge led the team with 15 points, scoring 11 of them at the free-throw line in 15 attempts. Famutimi, who had seen no action in the first two games, scored 12 points. Adeleke had 10 points and seven of the team's 16 offensive boards. And all six reserves who saw action scored at least six points.
"Everybody at this level can do that," said Green. "We saw that tonight without me and Kevin."
"Without Kevin and Jeff, you still come out with a sense of urgency and guys realize they get a chance to play and contribute," said Lewis. "I thought that they played hard all along. At times we didn't play smart as a team - just took some quick shots and we didn't rebound the ball the way that we should to limit their second-chance opportunities. All in all, it was a good effort and a good game in that respect."