Points in the Paint
By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Seattle has started the 2004-05 campaign
by winning six of its first seven contests. The SuperSonics are off to their
best start since 1998-99 when they were also 6-1 after seven games.
After losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in its season-opener, Seattle has
caught fire and has won six in a row. The Sonics won their sixth straight game
when they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 118-113, at KeyArena. All-Star Ray
Allen netted a game-high 34 points as he finished 10-of-16 from the field and
12-for-13 from the foul line.
“I think we’ve learned a little about how we want to play,” said Allen after
the win over Memphis. “We have to continue to do those things which make us
successful. It’s basketball. It’s five-on-five. We have to continue to beat
our opponents out there.
Eight-year veteran Antonio Daniels came off the bench and scored 28 points in
32 minutes of action in the win over Memphis. Daniels was an impressive 8-
for-12 from the field and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe.
“He (Daniels)stepped up big,” said Allen. “He made a lot of big shots and took
a lot of pressure off of Rashard (Lewis) and me. From their (Grizzlies) point
of view, Rashard wasn’t scoring and I was on the bench for a while, so they
figured they had the game under their control. But AD stepped up and made
those big shots. ”
Starting point guard Luke Ridnour also played a big role in the win over the
Grizzlies. The 23-year-old Oregon product tied a career-high with 17 points
and also dished out a game-high eight assists.
With the win over Memphis, the SuperSonics improved to a perfect 5-0 at
KeyArena. Besides the Grizzlies, Seattle has picked victories at home over the
Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors.
The last time the Sonics won their first five games as the host to open a
season was in 1999-2000, as they won their first six contests at home.
“At the start of the season, we wanted to make sure we take care of the home
court,” said Ridnour. “Last year we didn’t do that and it hurts you.”
Allen, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the
season, is off to a great start. The four-time All-Star leads the Sonics in
scoring at 26 points per game and is also averaging 4.7 rebounds and 3.7
assists. Allen, who missed 26 games last season because of a foot injury, is
shooting 52 percent from the field to go along with an unbelievable 60 percent
from three-point range.
The 25-year-old Lewis, who ended with 14 points and 12 rebounds in Seattle’s
win over Memphis, and Daniels are also of to solid starts to the new
campaign. Lewis has registered 21.1 points and seven rebounds per game, while
Daniels is averaging 14.4 points off the bench.
Ridnour, who started just six games last season, has started all seven of
Seattle’s games. He has contributed 9.1 points and a team-high 6.4 assists in
30 minutes of action per game.
“Everyone has stepped up and that’s been the great thing about this team,”
said Ridnour. “We’re not playing for the name on the back of the jersey but
the name on the front. It’s fun basketball. I know it’s early but we need to
keep going and keep playing hard.”
Seattle has started quickly in the past. Last season, the Sonics were 5-2 at
the same point, while in 2002-03 they were 8-2 after 10 games. But there could
be something different about this team.
Allen has a lot to play for and Lewis, Daniels and Ridnour want to keep
winning to help make it tougher for their All-Star teammate to consider
leaving. This could be a team that catches lightning in a bottle.