Opponent: Denver Nuggets
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: KeyArena, Seattle
Radio: KJR (950 AM)
Probable starters: For Seattle – forwards Desmond Mason (6 feet, 5 inches) and Rashard Lewis (6-10), center Jerome James (7-1), guards Brent Barry (6-6) and Gary Payton (6-4). For Denver – forwards George McCloud (6-8) and Tariq Abdul-Wahad (6-6), center Raef LaFrentz (6-11), guards James Posey (6-8) and Nick Van Exel (6-1).
Booth update: Injured center Calvin Booth, who has missed the last five games with a sprained right ankle, says he is “feeling a lot better” and may be able to play against Denver tonight. If not, Booth said, he should return for Tuesday’s game at Dallas.
Booth, expected to be Seattle’s starting center this season, was injured in the last exhibition game at Sacramento. He has played in just four of the team’s 10 games.
Impressive youngster: The Sonics are encouraged by the early showings of rookie guard Earl Watson, who has been backing up Gary Payton at point guard. Watson, a 6-foot-1 UCLA product, has played in all of Seattle’s games this season and is averaging 3.6 points and 1.7 assists 13.6 minutes (heading into Friday’s game).
“He’s scrappy,” Sonics coach Nate McMillan said of Watson, who was one of two Seattle second-round picks in the 2001 draft and the 40th overall selection. “He hustles. He’s a physical presence for a guard. And he’s relentless in his efforts to pressure and defend. He changes the tempo of the game when he comes in with his aggressiveness.”
With Shammond Williams back from the injured list, it will be interesting to see how McMillan allocates playing time between Williams and Watson. Williams is a better shooter, but Watson has shot well himself and is more of a natural point guard.
That’s a fact: Seattle center Jerome James once dunked a basketball on a rim raised to 11-4 (10-0 is the standard height). That is 7 inches short of the reported world record of 11-11, set by Michael Wilson of the Harlem Globetrotters at a dunk competition in Finland years ago.
Clothing drive: Wives of Sonics players will be collecting clothing on the west plaza at KeyArena before tonight’s game. The drive benefits the YWCA.
Ticket sales: The Sonics have announced that individual four-game ticket packages will go on sale Monday. The package includes tickets to games against Phoenix (Feb. 6), Atlanta (Feb. 22), Charlotte (March 7) and Washington (March 15). The latter game, of course, features the return of NBA star Michael Jordan to Seattle, his first visit since the 1997-98 season.
Prices begin at $80 ($20 per ticket), and purchases can be made by calling 206-283-3865 or by logging on to www.supersonics.com.