Sonics Update

  • Tuesday, December 5, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Herald Staff

  • Opponent: Detroit Pistons

  • When: 7 p.m.

  • Where: KeyArena, Seattle

  • TV: None

  • Radio: KJR (950 AM)

  • Probable starters: For Seattle – forwards Jelani McCoy (6 feet, 10 inches) and Rashard Lewis (6-10), center Patrick Ewing (7-0), guards Emanual Davis (6-5) and Gary Payton (6-4). For Detroit – forwards Michael Curry (6-5) and Ben Wallace (6-9), center Eric Montross (7-0), guards Jerry Stackhouse (6-6) and Chucky Atkins (5-11).

  • Next game: Seattle at Los Angeles Lakers, 7:30 p.m. Friday.

  • Scouting report: In preparation for tonight’s game against Detroit, Sonics coach Nate McMillan pulled out tape of a Nov. 12 game against the Pistons.

    It wasn’t pretty. Guard Jerry Stackhouse, who was tied for the NBA scoring lead heading into Tuesday night’s game at Vancouver, poured in 38 points as Detroit breezed to a 118-96 win.

    “I looked at that tape, and it was a bad, bad tape,” McMillan said. “There were a couple of times on that tape where I would have substituted five guys at one time. Our energy, effort and concentration were not there. We just had no emotions. There was no way we even deserved to be in that game.”

    Tonight, McMillan promised, the Sonics will do a better job of defending Stackhouse, who sports a 28.4 scoring average. “We’ll try to contain him and not let him have a big night,” McMillan said. “We’ll definitely pay attention to him.”

    Point guard Chucky Atkins is Detroit’s assist leader (5.7 per game), and forward Ben Wallace is high in rebounds (11.2) and blocked shots at (1.53).

    Detroit has been mediocre in recent seasons, but most Seattle players have never beaten the Pistons, at least with the Sonics. Detroit won the single meeting between the teams in the lockout-shortened 1999 season, then won both games a year ago. Detroit’s win in mid-November gives the Pistons a four-game winning streak against the Sonics.

  • Baker update: Forward Vin Baker missed Saturday’s game at Denver and Sunday’s home game with Golden State because of a leg injury. Baker worked out Tuesday and seemed to move without pain, and he might be available tonight.

    “He looked good (at practice Tuesday),” McMillan said. “And he shot the ball well. I even forgot that he’d had an injury.”

  • Patterson ailing: The Sonics might get Baker back, but they also might be without forward Ruben Patterson. He was excused from Tuesday’s practice because of illness, and his availability for tonight’s game is uncertain.

  • Sparks fly: The Sonics closed their Tuesday workout with an energetic scrimmage, and tempers got a bit frayed between Baker and Jelani McCoy. Rather than punches or shoves, it was mostly an exchange of taunts, with Gary Payton finally coming over to push the two parties apart.

    Of course, tension between the two may have something to do with McCoy getting Baker’s spot in the starting lineup when McMillan was promoted to head coach.

    McMillan shrugged off Tuesday’s incident. “That’s practice,” he said. “As I told them, I like that. I want them to be competitive. Just understand that when it’s over, you’re teammates. If it’s carried on any further than that, then we’ll have to deal with it.”

    Occasional spats “are part of any competitive sport,” McMillan added. “That means you’re working hard and you care about what’s happening on the floor. … I don’t mind, as long as we understand that when we leave the floor, we’re back together.”

  • Turning back the clock: McMillan is obviously enjoying his stint as head coach. Truth be told, though, he would prefer to be a player again.

    That is, if he could have a healthy body.

    “I came in the league with injuries,” he said. “I always had tendinitis. It flared up some years more than others. But I probably only had a couple of years total (in a 12-year career), meaning a month here and a month there, where I was injury free. That would be my biggest regret, that I was never really healthy.”

    Still, McMillan said, “I retired when I was ready. And I haven’t missed it, I really haven’t.”

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