Monday, July 9, 2007

Live Blog - Sonics vs. Knicks

Tip: The Sonics come out tonight with two different players from their starting lineup on Friday. A healthy Mickael Gelabale has replaced Julius Hodge at shooting guard, while Jermaine Jackson gets the start at the point. Jackson is a veteran who knows how to run an offense, so this move should help the Sonics get off to a quicker start on offense.

... You know, like Kevin Durant hitting a three-pointer on the team's first possession. Silky.

9-8 Knicks: A three from Nate Robinson from the left wing gives New York the lead.

17-15 Sonics: Not a lot of defense in the first quarter, which is surprisingly atypical for these games (actually, it's probably sloppy offense). Jeff Green and Kevin Durant have five points and a three-pointer apiece for the Sonics; Wilson Chandler's six points lead New York. Green and Durant have had their shots blocked a combined three times -- this could be an issue for Durant as a rookie, though I doubt it will be in the long run.

Durant is out now with two early fouls.

20-19 Knicks: Huskies in the house. As we've mentioned, Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons are on the floor for New York. There are three Huskies in the stands watching them - Will Conroy, playing for the Clippers; Brandon Roy, not playing for the Blazers after winning Rookie of the Year; and rookie Spencer Hawes, playing for the Kings. Bobby Jones may join them at some point and Stanford's Mitch Johnson, another Seattle product, is sitting with the Huskies in the stands.

I would never have believed there would be so many Huskies in the NBA when I started at UW a little less than seven years ago and the team's star player was Will Perkins. Crazy.

25-21 Knicks: The scoring has slowed since the second units got involved. I don't think we've had a score in the first minute and a half of the second quarter. Kevin Durant is currently 2-for-7 from the field. Right now, he's able to create good shots but hitting them consistently has not yet come. He's got a pretty good matchup with Renaldo Balkman, an excellent defender with length, working against him.

32-24 Knicks: Consider Jeff Green as having announced his presence with authority, to borrow from Marv Albert. He was fouled while going up in the middle of the lane and powered straight through for a hard slam dunk that drew oohs and ahs from the crowd. My favorite part: With his teammates talking to him as he was at the free-throw line to complete the three-point play, Green laughed a little bit, as if to admit, "That was nice."

45-28 Knicks: This second quarter has been all New York, with the Knicks outscoring the Sonics 20-7. Right now, we're seeing the young Sonics try to do a lot of things one-on-one as opposed to running through the offense. Kevin Durant is 2-for-10 from the field; in fact, it's the other No. 35, New York second-round pick Demetris Nichols, that leads all scorers with 11 points.

51-35 Knicks, halftime: Jeff Green is the leading Sonics scorer at the midway point with 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Kevin Durant finishes the first half with seven points on 2-for-11 shooting. Not a whole lot of scoring outside of that. For New York, Nate Robinson has eight points and three assists. Tre Simmons has four points but has yet to hit from the field, missing all three of his shot attempts.

57-43 Knicks, 5:02 3rd: We've seen a more active Sonics team come out for the second half, particularly at the defensive end of the floor. Johan Petro has at least one and maybe two blocks and the Sonics have stemmed the tide. Now to get some offensive rhythm, possibly by turning defense into offense.

59-45 Knicks, 3:17 3rd: Right now, it seems Kevin Durant's strength - at least in the summer setting - is drawing fouls. When the Sonics get him the ball on the wing with his back to the basket, he is able to turn quickly and get into the body of his defender, who often still has his hands on Durant - which becomes illegal. He's also very quick with his first step.

76-64 Knicks, 6:02 4th: Good run for Zabian Dowdell as the backup point guard. He had three points and an assist in seven minutes after a poor outing on Friday as the starter.

This game is perfectly tailor-made for Nate Robinson, who has put on a highlight clinic. He had a goregous up-and-under move against Johan Petro in the first half, along with a 360 move for a layup in transition in the third quarter. On defense, he got way up and blocked a shot in transition, though he was called for a foul. The crowd - thinning as the night goes on - appreciated it. One fan shouted out, "Go Huskies!" as Robinson was shooting a free throw.

87-74 Knicks, final: A tough night for the Sonics and for Kevin Durant as the Knicks win this one by double-digits.

Durant finishes the night with 18 points on 4-of-19 shooting. We saw some similar things to his first game. Other teams are going to be very physical in defending him and Durant will have to take a lot of contested shots. Right now, those aren't going in. It will be interesting to see how Durant adjusts during the course of the summer. He showed some positive signs in a fourth quarter that saw him play his best basketball. The positive is he hasn't appeared to get frustrated and he hasn't gotten down on defense - even taking a charge in the first half.

The star of the night for the Sonics was Jeff Green, who scored 17 points and shot 5-for-12 from the field. Green scored in several different ways tonight, hitting the jumper, getting out in transition and scoring off the dribble.

Mickael Gelabale had a solid night, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Johan Petro also had seven boards in 23 minutes, which is nice to see. And Mouhamed Sene put up six points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

While the score might not reflect it, I think we saw some progress for the Sonics tonight. After a day of practice, they'll play Milwaukee on Wednesday.