Sonics Update

  • Wednesday, December 26, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

Opponent: Los Angeles Clippers

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: KeyArena, Seattle

TV: None

Radio: KJR (950 AM)

Probable starters: For Seattle – forwards Vin Baker (6 feet 11 inches) and Rashard Lewis (6-10), center Art Long (6-9), guards Brent Barry (6-6) and Gary Payton (6-4). For Los Angeles – forwards Lamar Odom (6-10) and Elton Brand (6-8), center Michael Olowokandi (7-0), guards Jeff McInnis (6-4) and Corey Maggette (6-6).

Next game: Toronto at Seattle, 7 p.m. Saturday.

Radmanovic update: Sonics forward Vladimir Radmanovic, who suffered a concussion after a terrible fall in Saturday’s game against Detroit, returned to practice on Wednesday, only to be injured again in the early minutes of the workout.

Radmanovic was experiencing dizziness after being struck in the head during a one-on-one drill and was taken to a doctor for an examination. He is questionable to play in tonight’s game against the Clippers.

In the late minutes of Saturday’s game, Radmanovic made a breakaway dunk, but as he was swaying on the rim he lost his grip and crashed to the court, landing on the back of his head and neck. He stayed on his back for a few minutes, then was helped to the bench.

After a few days off, “he was cleared to practice (Wednesday),” Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. “He was feeling OK and was planning on going through the whole practice, but accidentally got hit. When he said he was dizzy, we took him off the floor and sent him to the hospital.”

Add, injuries: The Sonics expect to have forward Vin Baker back tonight, although his outside shot may be hampered by a protective brace he will wear on his injured right (shooting hand) thumb.

Baker suffered a partially torn ligament during Friday’s game at Golden State. He did not play Saturday against Detroit, and there was the possibility that he would be out for several games and perhaps need surgery.

Instead, Baker practiced with the team on Wednesday and said he plans to play tonight. He also hoped to modify the brace to give him more flexibility on his perimeter shot.

“There’s still some pain left in the thumb, but I think it’s wearing the brace that affects my shot,” Baker said. “I’m really controlling the basketball differently than I would normally control it when I get to the top of my shot. It was a little bit of a bother today, so we’re going to have to see if I can come up with a more comfortable brace so I can move my thumb.”

The danger, Baker said, is that he could be struck on the hand and tear the ligament more severely. “That’s the one thing (the trainers) are worried about,” he said. “But I’m not really worried about that. With the brace on, it really stabilizes the thumb. So I should be able to play.”

Also, centers Calvin Booth and Jerome James, who have both been on the injured list with ankle injuries, worked out on Wednesday but neither is expected to play tonight.

“I don’t think they’re where we want them to be, health-wise,” McMillan said. “They were scrimmaging, but you can still see they’re not close to 100 percent.”

Filling the void: Because of injuries, forward Art Long has been Seattle’s starting center the past four games. In that span, the 6-foot-9 free agent has played well, averaging 10.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 24.0 minutes.

“He’s really come through and helped us,” McMillan said. “We never expected to have so many injuries, but we did and Art was waiting in the wings. He really took advantage of an opportunity. He’s really become a guy we’re comfortable with defending the paint, and if he continues to work and improve we’ll have to continue looking at minutes (for him).”

Shoot and run: The Sonics closed Wednesday’s practice with a free throw shooting/running drill. Each player, in turn, stepped to the line for two free throws. With each miss, the entire team ran to the opposite end of the court, then returned by jogging backwards with both arms raised.

Because of his thumb brace, Baker missed both free throws. Earl Watson, Gary Payton, Calvin Booth and Desmond Mason made both chances. Everyone else made one, missed one. Among the misses were air balls by James and Olumide Oyedeji.

Brent Barry is an effective free throw shooter. When his second attempt banged off the rim, a surprised Barry remarked, “Must have been the (Christmas) pot roast.”

Once everyone had been to the line, McMillan said he would end practice when someone made two free throws. Baker and Payton both made one, missed one (more running). Shammond Williams finally sent everyone home by swishing both attempts.

Rich Myhre

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