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Daily Roundup 12.11.06

I've got the Monday morning get me the hell out of here blues. Name this bluesman and earn my undying respect.

Edit: (It's Bukka White)

I'm going to start off with Locke today.

Damien Wilkins was terrific on both ends of the floor tonight. Baron Davis put up big numbers, but I never felt like he was able to grab a hold of the game and dominate. Damien made him work and had the size to match Baron’s strength. On the offensive end, D-Wilk played with a rhythm that he hadn’t shown all season.

Food for thought … the Sonics have played five very good games. Nick Collison was put into the starting lineup five games ago. How much is that what has happened? I will look into that tomorrow.

I have to check the GameFlow numbers myself in more depth if I have time today (unlikely) but it seems to me that the starting unit isn't automatically getting down by double digits like they were throughout last year and earlier this year. Nick is by far the team's best help defender and not coincidentally one of the only Sonics that understands how to space the floor and play off the ball. So I guess I'm saying I don't find it coincidental. Earl has found his ability to get to the hole, but I wouldn't say he's been that efficient offensively. His shot selection and decision making could still improve IMO. Moving Damien into the starting lineup has also helped as he provides defensive intensity along with Collison and seems to find his rhythm much easier as a starter.

In fact, here's the GameFlow if you want to check it out. Classic NBA "Tale of Two Halves" game.

Anyone else think Wilcox needs more touches? In the second half he was regularly drawing double teams, if Ray Allen or Luke was on that side of the floor instead of Damien or Earl or Gelabale I think that duo becomes even tougher to guard. I am really liking what we've got at the PF spot more and more as the season goes on.

Let's examine Mike Seely who another fine Sonics blogger Mr. Baker re-brought to my attention over the weekend.

Never mind that the Sonics had four players (Ridnour, Lewis, Wilkins and Watson) score more than 20 points. The most critical component in last night's game was a halftime adjustment by Coach Hill, whose charges put the brakes on the Warriors fast break in the second half. During the first half, Golden State got away with leaking out one or two players on every Sonic shot — an old junior high gimmick that good teams snuff out quite easily.

Agreed, the halftime adjustment was good to see Mike. I think the key to the second half was when the team quit trying to shoot their way over the zone and began attacking the Warriors right in the soft middle of their D. Guys like Murphy and Biedrins are interesting matchups on offense but absolutely terrible post defenders. Like a poster said this weekend it's kind of like having a frontcourt of Vladimir Radmanovic clones.

Rashard on opting out and a funny Nellie quote:

Rashard Lewis will meet with his agent, Kevin Poston, while the Sonics are in Detroit next weekend and said Sunday he has talked with Sonics general manager Rick Sund about his contract status. Lewis can opt out of his contract after this season or is eligible for a two-year, $25 million extension. The Sonics have not offered the extension.

"Me and Rick are on the same page, we're cool," Lewis said after the Sonics' win. "We have talked, and I am confident things will work out. I want to end my career here."

and

A night after winning his 1,200th game, Warriors coach Don Nelson was asked if he admired all-time winningest coach Lenny Wilkens. "I've always tried to be like him, but I failed miserably. I am too much of a (jerk) to be like him."

The D is back.

"We were just thinking that they've got to cool down eventually," Ridnour said. "The biggest thing is we were more aggressive. A lot of times you get that big comeback and then you let down. We were able to sustain it."

Ray will have his ankle re-examined on December 18th to see if surgery is necessary.

Earl Dumps Beyonce for Young Jeezy

"It's been better," said Watson, who has averaged 13.5 points in his past two games. "They've been mixing it up with hip-hop and old school. I can go all old-school. I just like good music with a good beat and a good baseline. It's a spirit within itself and gets you excited."

Small ball worked this time

Hill went small with Ridnour and Watson in the backcourt, Wilkins on the wing and Lewis and forward Chris Wilcox as the posts for majority of the game. The coach started a similar lineup at Golden State earlier this season, only it worked against him as Pietrus tore through the Sonics interior for 31 points in the 107-95 victory.

That game by Pietrus and a double handful of shellackings under Nate were behind my "don't go small on Nellie" comments...glad it worked last night though!

What do you think now Pete?

Frank Hughes writes that Hill's looking for more leadership in Ray's absence and that Danny Fortson has virtually dropped off the face of the planet.

“I’ve encouraged [Luke] and talked to him, and so has Gordie (Chiesa, the team’s assistant coach), about becoming more vocal as a leader out on the floor. One of the things this team has a hard time is making each other accountable out on the floor. They don’t feel comfortable doing that. So anytime you get that, it is like a bonus.

“Some of that should come from the point guard. The good teams all get on each other. They make each other accountable all the time.”

And looking forward ...

After a four-game home winning streak, the Sonics leave this morning for a five-game, eight-day trip, a journey through the Midwest that begins Tuesday in Milwaukee and meanders through Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Memphis.

It may appear daunting, particularly without Allen, but keep in mind that the Sonics are 6-4 against the Eastern Conference, which has only three teams with winning records, and 4-7 against the West.

And the news that everyone's been waiting for -- Earl's butt is bruised but OK and he is expected to play tomorrow in Milwaukee. Someone get that guy an icepack.