Sonics shamed Lakers once, can they do it again?

  • RICH MYHRE / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, December 7, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Herald Writer

SEATTLE – Champions are supposed to humiliate, not be humiliated. If there is punishment to be given out, it should come from their hand, not the hand of an opponent.

This is how it ought to be, anyhow. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and other legends were occasionally beaten in battle, but somehow we never think of them being flat-out embarrassed on the basketball court.

However, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the other Los Angeles Lakers have experienced the feeling of shame, and it is fresh.

It happened just eight days ago. It was the first meeting of the season between the Sonics and Lakers, a pair of longtime West Coast rivals. It was also the first home game for new Sonics coach Nate McMillan.

And it was a dandy.

Before a giddy KeyArena sellout crowd on Nov. 30, the Sonics played brilliantly in the first half, building a 74-43 lead at the break on their way to a 121-88 victory. Seattle set a bevy of season highs that night including margin of victory (33 points), points for a game (121), points in a half (74), field goals made (46) and 3-point percentage (53.3, 8-for-15).

How one-sided was Seattle’s victory? Consider some historical perspective. A year ago, on their way to an NBA-best 67-15 record and the NBA title, the Lakers lost only one game by 20 or more points, and that was a 24-point setback to San Antonio. Every other defeat was by 17 points or less, and most were in single digits.

And in their years of facing the Sonics, a rivalry in its 34th season, the Lakers had never lost to Seattle by 30 or more points.

Whatever else happens in this Sonics season, whether the team achieves a soaring finish or fades to mediocrity, the magic of that one night will always twinkle in memory. Of course, the NBA always offers an opportunity for payback, and the Lakers will have that chance tonight when they host Seattle in a 7:30 p.m. game at the Staples Center.

Will the Lakers be poised for revenge?

“Oh, yeah, they’ll be ready,” said Seattle’s Emanual Davis. “They’ll be licking their chops.”

McMillan agrees. “I’m sure they’ve been looking forward to this game since they left (Seattle) the night of our victory,” he said.

The NBA schedule is a long and arduous trek, and athletes sometimes find that one game can blend into the next. Shrewd pros look for ways to gain that last ounce of motivation against a given foe, and there can hardly be a better source of inspiration than a recent thrashing.

“The way we beat them and the fashion that we beat them, they’re the world champions, they have ego and pride, and I’m sure they’re going to use that as a motivation tool,” McMillan said. “We have to come ready to play (tonight).”

Ironically, both teams enter this game after highly disappointing defeats. Seattle, which won three of its first four under McMillan, was thumped at home by Detroit on Wednesday, 112-99. That same night, the Lakers dropped a 125-122 overtime decision at Golden State. The loss kept Los Angeles from taking over first place in the league’s Pacific Division.

The Sonics, meanwhile, are fifth in the division and 11th in the Western Conference, and desperately need to tack a string of wins together. To start such a string against the Lakers, McMillan knows, will require the same effort and execution Seattle showed just eight nights ago.

“I want us to have the same focus, concentration and energy that we had when we were up here,” he said, adding, “We’re not going to go down there to play well, we’re going down there to win it.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Everett Community College has hired longtime assistant coach Daniel Thompson (middle) as its new head men's basketball coach. (EvCC Athletics photo)
EvCC names Thompson new men’s basketball head coach

Thompson, 35, has been an assistant with the Trojans for 9 seasons and takes over for Mike Trautman, who stepped down in April.

Spring 2023 All-Wesco teams

Note: All-Wesco teams are chosen by the league’s coaches. For any misspellings… Continue reading

Hammer throw.
Local trio shines in high school hammer throw finals

Adrianna Coleman and Kimberly Beard place 1-2 in the women’s portion, and Calvin Gutierrez takes 2nd in the men’s championship.

Washington celebrates a home run by Rylee Holtorf (3) at home plate during the second inning of an NCAA softball Women's College World Series game against Utah Friday, June 2, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)
UW opens Women’s College World Series with key win over Utah

After being rained out on Thursday, Washington beats Utah 4-1 to advance into the winner’s bracket.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for May 22-28

The Athlete of the Week nominees for May 22-28 Voting closes at… Continue reading

Hops rally in 9th inning to sink AquaSox

Reid VanScoter turns in an impressive outing, but Everett’s bullpen falters late in a 4-3 defeat.

Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (left) reaches down to tag out the Mariners’ Teoscar Hernande, who was trying to stretch a single into a double during the third inning of a game Friday in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Mariners’ bats silent in shutout by Rangers

Seattle’s offense musters just three hits in the 2-0 defeat.

AquaSox can’t make huge rally hold, lose to Hops

Everett takes the lead with six runs in the eighth, but allows two runs back in the ninth and falls 13-12 to Hillsboro.

The Everett Elite Flag Football 14-under team practices Sunday morning at Harbour Pointe Middle School in Mukilteo, Washington on January 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Community roundup: 3 Jackson grads to D-I baseball tournament

Plus, Jayden White is headed back to the NCAA track and field nationals, the Silvertips sign their first-round picks and more.

The Mariners’ Cal Raleigh smiles as a teammate throws bubblegum at him during an interview after Raleigh hit a single to drive in the winning run against the Yankees during the 10th inning of a game Wednesday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Raleigh’s RBI single in 10th gives M’s 1-0 win over Yankees

George Kirby pitches one of the best games of his young career with eight shutout innings in Seattle’s 1-0 win.

AquaSox top Hops on wild pitch in 11th inning

Everett edges Hillsboro 3-2 in a game with strong pitching on both sides.

Cooper Cummings from the United States celebrates after winning a men's downhill during the Cheese Rolling contest at Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, Monday May 29, 2023. The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is an annual event where participants race down the 200-yard (180 m) long hill chasing a wheel of double gloucester cheese. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Arlington High School grad is the big cheese after winning UK race

Cooper Cummings, who grew up in Lake Stevens, defeated a world record-holder in Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake.