Sonics start out with stinker

  • RICH MYHRE / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, October 31, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Herald Writer

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Poised with a new look for the new season, the Seattle SuperSonics instead found themselves trapped in a hideous Halloween nightmare.

Staggered by an early flood of missed shots and errant passes, the Sonics fell into a 25-point first-half hole Tuesday night and never managed to recover in a dismal 94-88 loss to the Vancouver Grizzlies. Seattle rallied from 20 points back at halftime to pull even in the early moments of the fourth period, but Vancouver eased away in the closing minutes to seal the victory.

The decision came before 15,779 giddy customers at General Motors Place, who saw the Grizzlies win just the third game against the Sonics in 20 all-time attempts.

“We saw a little of how good we could be and how bad we can be,” Sonics coach Paul Westphal said. “It seemed like we came back in the third quarter. That’s the kind of basketball we think we’re capable of, but we have to put together more than 12 minutes of that. … It was just too big of a hole that we dug.”

Seattle faced an uphill task after falling behind 13-0 and 22-4 in the game’s early minutes. The Sonics were down 56-36 at halftime, but rallied impressively in the third quarter behind eight points apiece from guards Gary Payton and Shammond Williams. Seattle trailed 65-64 heading in the fourth quarter and managed to draw even in the initial moments of the final period, 67-67, but they never led.

The Grizzlies won despite – or perhaps because of – a curious bit of coaching by Vancouver’s Sidney Lowe. He kept top reserves Ike Austin and Stromile Swift on the bench until the fourth quarter, and backup Damon Jones had played just one minute before the final period. With his starters wilting badly heading into the fourth quarter, Lowe finally went to the bench and that trio ignited the home team down the stretch.

Austin, in particular, scorched the Sonics by burying his first four shots, including a 3-pointer, in less than four minutes. Seattle drew once more within two points, 78-76, but the Grizzlies responded with nine unanswered points to take the game in hand.

“It was anybody’s game (early in the fourth quarter), but it was a thing where we didn’t have any margin for error,” Westphal said. “We needed them to miss some of their shots and we needed to come up with some of the loose balls after good defensive plays. It was their quarter. They won the quarter that mattered after we fought back.”

“We came back like we expected to, but we weren’t able to pull it out at the end,” said Seattle’s Vin Baker.

Seattle’s two new starters both had disappointing outings. Center Patrick Ewing, the centerpiece of a major four-team trade during the offseason, managed just two points on 1-for-6 shooting, though he did collect 12 rebounds. And guard Desmond Mason, Seattle’s No. 1 pick in the June draft, had just seven points, all but one in the first half. He played sparingly in the second half.

“It seemed like things just weren’t going (Mason’s) way,” Westphal said.

Among the Seattle highlights, and there weren’t many, was the spirited play of Baker. Trying to shed the memory of two disappointing seasons, Baker was the steadiest of the Sonics with 19 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Payton had a woeful shooting night, finishing just 10-for-26 from the field, but he ended with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. It was the 11th triple-double of his 11-year NBA career.

The opening quarter was a dismal performance by the Sonics as Vancouver bolted to a 9-0 lead before the Sonics called a momentum-stemming timeout. It mattered little, as nothing went right for Seattle. The Sonics made just 6 of 21 field goals in the period while committing six turnovers. Vancouver, meanwhile, shot a blistering 16-for-30, aided by a number of fastbreaks from Seattle turnovers.

No Sonic seemed more befuddled than forward Rashard Lewis. His shot wouldn’t fall – he was 3-for-10 from the field for the game – and he added to his shooting woes with off-target passes and defensive lapses. At one point in the first half, Lewis inexplicably tossed a pass to Vancouver’s Mike Bibby, leading to a breakaway.

“They capitalized on our turnovers (in the first quarter) and that was the biggest problem,” Westphal said. “Their transition was what killed us, and it was because we were giving them the ball.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Rory McIlroy hits from the fairway on second hole at the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. (Hyosub Shin / Tribune News Service)
Column: My storylines for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games

Part 1: The U.S. men’s and women’s basketball squads, golf’s Scheffler, Schauffele and McIlroy are my favorites to win medals.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba catches the game-winning touchdown pass as Eagles cornerback James Bradberry defends in the fourth quarter on Dec. 18. (Yong Kim / Tribune News Service)
Five things as Seahawks open first training camp of Mike Macdonald era | Analysis

The first day to evaluate the 90 campers begins Wednesday.

Lakeside’s Addie Streidl hits the ball during the girls gold doubles championship match at the Snohomish Summer Smash at Snohomish High School in Snohomish, Washington on Sunday, July 21, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Wesco tennis players crowned champions at 2024 Snohomish Summer Smash

Shorewood’s Carlota Garibay Romero and Archbishop Murphy’s Cole Balen highlight the weekend with singles and doubles titles.

Boys Snohomish Little League 8-10 coach Aaron Barstad (kneeling) talks to the outfield during practice at the Snohomish Little League Complex in Snohomish, Washington on Thursday, July 18, 2024. Barstad’s team claimed the Washington District 1 Little League title, securing a spot in the 2024 Washington State 8-10 Baseball tournament held July 20-27 at the North Kitsap League Complex in Poulsbo, Washington. (Taras McCurdie / The Herald)
Baseball history in the making: Snohomish Little League 10U boys team is state bound

The 2024 District 1 champions became the first Snohomish boys team to advance.

Rays third baseman Isaac Paredes catches a pop fly in foul territory during Friday’s game against the Cleveland Guardians. (Jefferee Woo / Tribune News Service)
Ranking the best Mariners trade targets as deadline nears

Seattle needs to fill the offensive gap by July 30.

Matt Calkins: Forget the slow start, the Sounders are showing they’re title contenders

Seattle’s 2-0 win over St. Louis City FC launched it into sixth place in the Western Conference.

Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald talks with the media after practice at Under Armour Performance Center. The Seattle Seahawks hired Macdonald on January 31, 2024. (Kevin Richardson / Tribune News Service)
Seattle Seahawks roster breakdown: One thought on Geno Smith and every position group

The next phase of Mike Macdonald’s debut season as head coach of… Continue reading

Jurrangelo Cijntje pitches 2022 MLB Draft Combine held at Petco Park on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in San Diego, CA. Cijntje, from Mississippi State, was the Mariners’ first pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Mariners lean on college players, pitchers with ‘power arms’ as MLB draft concludes

Seattle’s 20 selections include 19 college players and one high schooler.

Jurrangelo Cijntje pitches at the 2022 MLB Draft Combine held at Petco Park on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in San Diego, CA. Cijntje, from Mississippi State, was the Mariners’ first pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Mariners go college route on second day of draft, take 2-way player Grant Knipp

Seattle chose youth and selected eight college players.

View of T-Mobile Park from the Press Club. Ben Ray / The Reporter
T-Mobile Park at 25: Mariners fans share favorite ballpark memories

The venue turned a quarter of a century on Monday

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.