Sonics Update

  • Friday, January 18, 2002 9:00pm
  • Sports

Opponent: Denver Nuggets

When: 7 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 Denver – forwards Zendon Hamilton (6-11) and Calbert Cheaney (6-7), center Raef LaFrentz (6-11), guards James Posey (6-8) and Avery Johnson (5-11).

Next game: Seattle at Philadelphia, 11 a.m. Monday.

Sonics looking for rebounds: Seattle SuperSonics coach Nate McMillan switched his starting lineup Friday night, inserting guard Desmond Mason and sending center Art Long to the bench.

McMillan said it was not a demotion for Long, but clearly he was unhappy with a front line that is last in the league in rebounding. Peja Drobnjak was the first player off the bench, rather than Long, who did not play a minute after starting 13 games this season.

“How bad can it get?” McMillan queried, when asked about substituting a guard for a center.

McMillan probably is slapping himself for asking that question, because soon after he asked he watched the Nuggets outrebound the Sonics 55-33.

When he was asked if he would keep the starting lineup, McMillan said, “I don’t know. I have to think about. I’m still trying to figure out what the heck happened.”

McMillan had Mason coming off the bench because he liked the intensity and energy the second-year guard brings. But McMillan said other players have proven they are equally capable of filling that role.

“I think (Vladimir) Radmanovic has been doing some good things coming off the bench,” McMillan said. “I think we can rotate our lineup around. Earl (Watson) does a good job giving us a spark off the bench, so we have some guys who are capable of bringing us some intensity off the bench. I don’t really see us lacking in that department.”

McMillan’s move isn’t necessarily reward-oriented, because in truth Mason hasn’t been playing very well lately. Mason said the knee that he sprained earlier this year doesn’t bother him, but he has been missing a lot of open shots, as well as committing turnovers.

“I wanted to make a change,” McMillan admitted. “Maybe I was bored.”

Booth needs more time: Sonics center Calvin Booth said he still is at least two weeks away from testing the right foot that has kept him sidelined most of the season. Booth said the foot does not hurt, but he has not does anything strenuous on it. He has been working out in the pool and lifting weights while the foot remains immobilized.

“It’s good to be with the team,” said Booth, who made this two-game trip, “but it’s kind of hard to watch the guys. I really want to be out there.”

Bobblehead night: The Sonics are going to give away Gary Payton Bobbleheads to the first 10,000 fans at tonight’s home game against Denver, though Payton’s likeness is not very close. “He has an awfully big head,” McMillan said.

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