Thursday, November 29, 2007

Carlesimo Touches on Several Topics

The Sonics had a very brief session Thursday, shooting for around 15 minutes as P.J. Carlesimo continues to try to get his team some rest during the midst of a busy November schedule that culminates tomorrow night against Indiana with the 17th game for the Sonics of the season.

Afterwards, a quiet media session with just the beat writers and Gary Hill from the Sonics broadcast team in attendance that gave us the chance to get some updates from Carlesimo on a variety of topics. "You guys are asking tough questions today," Carlesimo joked at one point. You can listen to some of the audio by clicking here.

One topic I'd been meaning to ask about was the fact that the Sonics have slowed down slightly from their league-leading pace early in the season. As of now, the Sonics rank fourth in the league in possessions per game, averaging 97.0 a night.

"We don't want to slow down," Carlesimo first emphasized before discussing possible explanations.

"I think part of it is the grind," he said. "We've had a bad November.

"A lot of it is we're just not pushing the ball as much as we did, at times - as much as we would like to. We're also seeing, as you get deeper into the year, we're seeing teams that know us better and know what we want to do and we're trying to do."

The good news is that another minor factor in the change of pace is the fact that the opposition isn't getting as many easy buckets off of Sonics turnovers. After averaging 19.7 turnovers per game over the first nine games of the season, the Sonics are down to 13.7 giveaways over their last seven contests. The last three games, the Sonics have averaged but 10 turnovers a night.

Another topic of discussion was the point-guard position, where Delonte West moved into the starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Lakers.

"I want to give him, certainly, some more starts before we start saying things like, 'I think this guy's more suited to starting,' or, 'We like him better coming off the bench' or 'This is the pecking order right now for these three guys,'" Carlesimo explained. "Obviously, we're not going to have that one for a while."

According to Carlesimo, Luke Ridnour is still 10 days to two weeks away from returning from the torn left quad that has sidelined him for the last two weeks.

"Once he's ready to practice, then we need to put him out on the floor and get him some games (as a starter) too," noted Carlesimo. "We're not going to get the kind of resolution we want for a while."

Carlesimo also was asked about rookie Kevin Durant's progress as a playmaker. Over the last three games, when he's shot the ball better, Durant has also handed out 11 assists - as many as he had in his previous eight games. Carlesimo pointed out recently that Durant might have a few more assists if plays in which he set up teammates to go to the free-throw line counted in that category.

"I think he is becoming better, certainly, with his decision-making, certainly with his shot selection, and he is involving people more," Carlesimo said. "We're also putting him in more pick-and-rolls now than we did earlier. He's getting more assists."