I exercised my enviable ability as a citizen of a diverse and well-rounded city and selected from a varied menu of entertainment options from which to sample yesterday evening. It is too bad that the "leadership" of our fine city has determined that only SOME of those options offer any cultural or economic value to the city. I guess I should be grateful that someone is taking the time to tell me what to think, since I am apparently incapable of performing that task on my own.
My choices for the evening included dining at the somewhat trendy and over-priced, but very tasty Dragonfish restaurant downtown Seattle, enjoying some fine, contemporary music from David Ford and Ray LaMontagne and watching a DVR recording of the Seattle Sonics get pounded by the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately the title of one of Mr. LaMontagne's songs proved foreboding for the game I was recording on my DVR. The Sonics were in "Trouble."
In my my Gameday Warmup, I asked for two things from Seattle on defense...rebound and limit the guards scoring. They achieved both. While Allen Iverson scored 28 points, he missed 16 shots and had to go to the free throw line to get half of them. All of the other leading scorers on the Sixers were held below their season averages and the Sonics outrebounded the Sixers throughout the evening.
I also asked for two things on offense, neither of which were provided. The Sonics turned the ball over repeatedly, and usually at the most inopportune moments. I also asked for the scoring load to come from the front line, particularly Lewis, Wilcox and Collison. Here is where they failed the most. Lewis stepped up despite smothering defense by Andre Iguodala, but Wilcox and Collison repeatedly fumbled passes, missed dunks and bobbled lay-ups.
The Sonics still almost won this game on valiant efforts from Ridnour, Allen and Lewis and the excellent work on the boards by Wilcox and Lewis. I can't remember the last time the Sonics had two players with 15 rebounds each in the same game.
You can probably already tell who my POG is for last night's game. I wanted to pick a player to blame, but it was really a team failure. I thought about picking a Sixer, simply because I REALLY wanted the Sonics to go above .500. In the end, though, the numbers on the stat sheet and my memory of screaming for the Sonics to run more plays for one player all night last night (luckily I did not wake up my sleeping children at midnight last night) forced me to realize that I simply had to acknowledge the excellent efforts and results of Mr. Rashard Lewis.
Lew has been criticized for his tendency to stand around and wait for a shot, for his lack of driving to the basket, for his lack of leadership, for his failure to rebound aggressively, for his lack of fire and many other things I am failing to remember. Last night he told everybody to just shut up. He didn't let this slip in a post game interview under the probing ferocity of Frank Hughes. He did it by driving to the basket for 10 of the teams 23 free throws and hitting all but one of those shots. The rest of the team was 6 for 13 from the stripe. He did this by leading the team in scoring with 25 points of a variety of shots, and drives to the basket. He did this by pulling down a game high (tied with Wilcox) 15 rebounds, some of which were retrieved through sheer force of will. When he hit a key three to bring the Sonics within striking distance, FSN showed us a close up of a firey-eyed Lewis screaming at his team to get it going as they ran back on defense. He didn't care that he had a solid, athletic defender covering him the entire game, he wanted the ball, and when he got it, he did something useful with it.
He played all but five minutes of the game, so his +/- is reflective of the team moreso than his individual performance, but the team went -5 in the five minutes that he sat. He had the second best Help Value (14) on the team behind only Chris Wilcox. Iguodala was on the floor every minute that Lewis was on the floor, and Iguodala was held to his average scoring of 12 points, despite playing 6 more minutes than his average, unfortunately everytime Andre passed someone else hit the shot.
In any other game, a performance like this from Lewis combined with a more average team shooting percentage and less careless turnovers would have resulted in a blowout win for the Sonics. Rashard, thank you for the tasty POG, too bad the rest of the meal was cold and bland as day old poi.