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Daily Roundup Apr 20 06

Major jeers to ESPN for their crap coverage of last night's game. Their announcers clearly didn't want to be in Seattle covering a meaningless game. Ray Allen's valiant and brilliant first half, where he first tied and then broke Dennis Scott's record for most 3-point field goals in a season wasn't seen on live TV because some hopefully soon-to-be-jobless program director at ESPN decided to cut away to an equally meaningless Hornets/Lakers game while Ray Allen made his record-breaking shot. Way to respect the game.

Percy Allen's 5-part season-ending Sonic extravaganza draws to a close.

And before Wednesday's game, a disgruntled Sonics fan rented an airplane to fly a banner over the skyline that read: "Stay Sonics, Wally Go!" Inside the arena, a front-row spectator held a large "Trade Wally/Sell Howie" sign, in reference to owner Howard Schultz.

Wow. I guess congratulations are in order to the same 4 "fans" on the P-I boards who still blame Wally Walker for everything wrong in their worlds.

Mayor Greg Nickels cops out

The team is important, Nickels said, but "they are not perhaps as important as replacing the viaduct or making sure the schools work."

Please don't insult me by dragging the viaduct and schools out now, I don't remember this argument coming from city leaders during the building of Qwest Field or Safeco.

Frank Hughes accentuates the positive.

If Allen wanted to leave a lasting impression for the summer, as he spoke about so eloquently after Tuesday night’s debacle in Sacramento, he accomplished that goal in Wednesday’s game.

Needing five 3-pointers to tie Dennis Scott’s record of 267 in a season and six to pass him, Allen, as he has done so many times, rose to the challenge of a premier athlete, performing his best when the pressure was most intense.

“I can think about many nights in my career, and yeah, I have hit shots to win games,” Allen said. “But nothing felt like this tonight. Tonight was special. It was not just for me, but everybody else. To be able to share like that, it was wonderful.”

Thanks for a great season Ray.

Let the season writeups begin:

Gary Washburn

Kudos to Gary on the best postmortem I've read yet.

"The way I look at it, we had three different teams here," said coach Bob Hill, who took over for Bob Weiss on Jan. 3. "We had the guys who came out of training camp unfocused and unsure of how good or not so good they were. And then we had the team when I took over, with four of five guys who didn't want to be here. And then we have the team after the trade deadline, a bunch of guys who want to play and actually like each other."

The Sonics were lauded last season for their team chemistry, and many observers attributed that harmony to their success. It was a total antithesis this season, with several players, realizing that the light-hearted Weiss was now coach, arrived at camp out of shape, unfocused or overly concerned about their contracts.

"That's where things started wrong," forward Rashard Lewis said. "Guys came in here worried about themselves instead of the team. And it never got better. Guys were worried about playing time because of their contract situation and never got into the team concept. You could see it in guys' faces."

And there's more.

Yet whenever folks start ranting about spoiled millionaire athletes, it might be worthwhile to think of Allen, who has played hard the entire season and tried his damnedest to lead and motivate this team.

Allen inked a five-year $85 million contract last summer. And know what? That's about the going rate for the best shooter of a basketball.

He also is one of the NBA's good guys. In fact, The Sporting News named him to its "Good Guy" list three times. His Ray of Hope Foundation has a legitimacy that a lot of athletes' "foundations" don't.

He remains hopeful for the future. He thinks the present collection of talent will return to the playoffs next year, and he's not the sort to spout optimistic cliches just for fun.

It's been a dismal season, and the vibe surrounding the franchise as the season concludes is little more than a dull murmur. Or the ominous bleeping of an electrocardiogram.

But Allen provided a flashing, tantalizing glimpse Wednesday night of why this game and this franchise have mattered in this town for nearly 40 years.

P-I Grades for this year's team.

David Locke writes that the Sonics lead the league in roster flexibility.

Check out Sonicscentral soon for our grades on the 05-06 season and have a great day!