Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM
| May 2, 2005
For Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen
, everything about Sunday night's Game 4 of the Sonics first-round playoff series against the Sacramento Kings was routine.
"I just did what I normally do," Allen said after the Sonics practiced Monday. "I didn't feel any different from the previous three games."
The results, however, were anything but routine. With the Sonics needing a spark to rally from a 19-point deficit in the second quarter, Allen stepped up. He then stayed hot in the third and fourth quarter, pushing the Sonics all the way back and into the lead. Allen buried Sacramento with a cold-blooded 3-pointer with the shot clock running out while falling out of bounds.
Two subsequent free throws gave Allen 45 points for the game, not only a playoff career high but also a Sonics playoff record, tied with Fred Brown's 45 on April 15, 1976 against the Phoenix Suns.
"I would have to imagine that when my career is over with, I would probably put that somewhere near the top."|
During the second half, Allen virtually matched the entire Kings roster point-for-point, scoring 26 points on 16 shot attempts. Sacramento scored 34 points on 36 shots. The gap was but 18-15 in the fourth quarter, as Allen scored 10 of the Sonics first 12 points of the period.
"Last night, Ray was just unbelievable," said Sonics Coach Nate McMillan. "Whenever we got close, he just took us even closer. And then eventually he gave us the lead with some of the shots he made."
Allen, who had previously reached the 40-point mark once in the playoffs, scoring 41 vs. Philadelphia in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, was willing to rank the performance amongst the best of his career.
"I would have to imagine that when my career is over with, I would probably put that somewhere near the top," said Allen. "I think if people ask to talk about games that I played, they'd definitely put that near the top."
With Allen obviously on fire, his Sonics teammates began looking for him. Allen took 28 shots, more than he attempted in any regular-season game this season.
"I started breaking plays to set a pick for him," said center Jerome James. "That was one of those Michael Jordan-type games where you wonder, 'Can he miss?'"
"That is the playbook," countered McMillan. "Our bigs get the shooters and get the ball open."
"I pay all tribute to those bigs," said Allen, referring largely to James and forward Nick Collison, who were on the court during the fourth quarter.
As for Allen's most memorable shot, McMillan said it did not go as drawn up.
"I can't take credit for that," he said.
"The shot at the end of the shot clock with about six on the clock, we had a play drawn up, and he shoots a fadeaway going to his right, which is tough to do. I'm looking at that and I don't even know how he saw the rim. He buries that 3. That's a huge shot.
"A play like that, you just say, 'Hey, it's just that guy's night.'"
That seemed to be the feeling amongst the Kings after the game. While Cuttino Mobley has struggled with the matchup with Allen during this series, there was nothing that could be done to slow him last night.
"Some of the shots he made were incredible," said Sacramento Coach Rick Adelman. "There were times when he broke down our focus. When heís got it rolling like that, heís the quickest shooter in the league. He was just draining it. Heís a great player."
"The shots that he was making, they were unbelievable," added Kings forward Peja Stojakovic. "I think we had two guys on him - a big guy and Cuttino - and he was just making a lot of tough shots."
Allen finished the evening 17-of-28 from the field. He hit six 3-pointers and was 11-for-14 on attempts inside the free-throw line. Allen added six assists and a team-high four steals and even added a pair of blocked shots.
To Allen, the game was extra special because the Sonics were able to win on the road in one of the NBA's most hostile settings, ARCO Arena, and quiet the Sacramento crowd, taking a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"When you're at home, it feels like you're cheating a little bit because you've got your own fans supporting you, so they're cheering every time you make a bucket or go on a run," he said. "But imagine being in another building, a hot building, and everybody just oohs and ahs the whole night because there's no answer, we just keep scoring on them and scoring on them. At first, there was so much energy in the building. Then we made our comeback and you could see the worry on people's faces. We played hard and everybody had that fire in their eyes on the team and it was a great feeling to be a part of it."
Allen, who downplayed the individual element of his performance, said he caught a few highlights from the game on NBA TV before practice. The best part of the post-game excitement, he maintained was getting phone messages from his family, who watched the game together.
"Everybody was watching the game on the East Coast," said Allen. "They were up pretty late and they had to work today, but everybody was watching the game - they were all together. To me, that's the most special feeling - to get the family together and get everybody excited about this team and the way I played."