Daniels playing with pain

  • By Rich Myhre / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, April 14, 2005 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – Never one to make excuses, Seattle guard Antonio Daniels shrugged off most questions about his ailing right knee on Thursday.

Though the injury caused him to miss three games – and he probably would have missed a few more if the Sonics were not in the waning days of their schedule – Daniels did not seem interested in saying much about it after the team’s midday practice.

“I feel as good as I’m going to feel right now, and I guess that’s the best way I can put it,” he said to a gathering of media. “I’m sore, but it doesn’t matter. I just have to play through it and not even worry about it.”

To a follow-up question, he said simply, “I’m not really going to concern myself with (the knee) much at all. I’m just concerned with winning basketball games.”

Daniels, in fact, played very well in Wednesday’s 95-90 loss to Dallas, scoring 17 points and adding four assists in 26 minutes. On the court for the entire fourth quarter, he had eight of the team’s 20 points in the period, including an explosive drive to the basket with 1:30 to play that tied the score, 87-87.

Being aggressive “is the only way I know how to play,” Daniels said. Even with a nagging injury, “I can’t play any different. I talked with Nate (McMillan, Seattle’s coach) a couple of days ago and he said, ‘If you’re going to play, I expect you to go out there and be the same player you’ve been.’ And that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The three players who returned from injuries against Dallas – Daniels, and forwards Rashard Lewis and Danny Fortson – all went through a light practice on Thursday and should be ready for tonight’s game, McMillan said.

“They had a little soreness (at practice),” he said, “but no complaints.”

Before Wednesday’s game, McMillan said he had been told to restrict Lewis to 20-25 minutes a game. Then, moments before tip-off, the medical staff boosted that number to 30.

Lewis, who missed eight games with a severe bone bruise on his right foot, ended up playing 36 minutes, second only to Ray Allen’s 39 minutes among the Sonics.

“The minutes kind of crept up on me,” McMillan admitted with a smile.

Lewis wasn’t available for comment Thursday, but teammate Nick Collison said the All-Star forward “looked fine. It’s tough to sit out that long and then come back, especially for a scorer like Rashard. He just missed some shots (against Dallas) that he’ll normally make, but those shots will start to drop.”

Lewis finished the night 5-for-13 from the field, having missed his first five attempts.

“I just accepted that (might happen) because he’s been off,” McMillan said. “But I didn’t go to him and say, ‘Keep shooting.’ He just did that (on his own). He continued to stay aggressive. … He has to get the rust off, so it was good we got him some minutes.”

Looking ahead: Though the playoff schedule has not been set, it is possible to know a little bit about what’s ahead for the Sonics. Assuming they win the Northwest Division and get homecourt advantage in the first round, they would likely host the No. 6 Western Conference seed on Saturday, April 23.

Most if not all playoff games around the NBA will either be on the 23rd or 24th, but a U2 concert is scheduled for KeyArena on the 24th. A second concert is on the 25th, meaning the Sonics would probably play Saturday and then Tuesday at home before heading on the road for Games 3 and 4.

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