Sonics Update

  • Monday, December 11, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Herald Staff

  • Opponent: Orlando Magic

  • When: 7 p.m.

  • Where: KeyArena, Seattle

  • TV: KONG (Ch. 6/16)

  • Radio: KJR (950 AM)

  • Probable starters: For Seattle – forwards Jelani McCoy (6 feet 11 inches) and Rashard Lewis (6-10), center Patrick Ewing (7-0), guards Ruben Patterson (6-6) and Gary Payton (6-4). For Orlando – forwards Grant Hill (6-8) and Bo Outlaw (6-8), center John Amaechi (6-10), guards Tracy McGrady (6-8) and Darrell Armstrong (6-1).

  • Next game: Seattle at Vancouver, 7 p.m. Wednesday

  • Scouting report: The Sonics certainly remember their first meeting with Orlando this season. It happened on Nov. 6, a 110-99 defeat in the opener of an East Coast road trip.

    In the locker room after the game, Vin Baker griped aloud about playing time, Gary Payton told his teammate to pipe down, and then-coach Paul Westphal offered to resign. Needless to say, Seattle is hoping for a cheerier game tonight.

    Orlando is celebrating the return of forward Grant Hill, who came off the injured list for Monday’s game in Los Angeles vs. the Clippers. Hill has played just two games this season while recovering from offseason ankle surgery.

    In Hill’s absence, newcomer Tracy McGrady has been filling the void. McGrady, an offseason free agent before moving to Orlando in a sign-and-trade swap, leads the team with 25.7 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. The 21-year-old superstar-to-be also contributes 4.1 assists, 1.76 steals and 1.65 blocked shots per outing, while averaging 41.4 minutes (the NBA’s second-highest total).

    “Tracy is phenomenal,” said Seattle’s Brent Barry. “And it’s just the tip of the iceberg for this guy. This is the first season that he’s really been ‘the man’ on a team, and he’s doing more than his share. Potentially, this guy is going to have a phenomenal career.”

    “He’s an All-Star in the making, if he’s not already one,” said Seattle coach Nate McMillan. “He has size, he has the heart, the ability to dominate a game. He’s just solid.”

    Can Hill and McGrady, two players who like the ball in their hands, coexist happily?

    “I think they’ll be OK,” McMillan said. “I think (Orlando coach Doc Rivers) has those guys under control. He understands they need to get their looks. Some of those other guys may feel the pinch, but I think those two will sacrifice for each other.”

  • Lineup update: Guard Emanual Davis, who missed the last two games because of a sprained ankle, is expected to play tonight for the Sonics. Whether he starts will be a gametime decision, McMillan said. Ruben Patterson is a better defensive matchup on McGrady, while Davis is a better ballhandler against Orlando’s trapping pressure.

  • Dandy Desmond: Seattle rookie Desmond Mason had his best game of the season Saturday against Houston, according to McMillan. Mason played 30 minutes and scored 14 points (6-for-11 from the field) to go with three rebounds and no turnovers.

    “He looked very calm to me,” McMillan said. “Everything wasn’t 100 miles an hour. He took his shot when he had it. He didn’t really force it.”

    “Coach has been talking to me about relaxing and just shooting the ball,” Mason said. “I just went ahead and did that. I’ve been a little tentative on the offensive end. I’ve been trying to play defense and play hard, but they need me to put up some baskets whenever I get the opportunity.”

  • Rodriguez reaction: Yes, the Sonics have been following the Alex Rodriguez saga, like everyone else. And their eyebrows went up, just like everybody’s, at Rodriguez’s hefty new contract.

    “As a fan you just say ‘Wow.’ As a player or a coach, too,” McMillan said. “And you know what, owners are making some (big) money. To be able to pay one player that kind of money, the owners are making a lot more money than we think they are.”

    Still, McMillan said, those numbers are staggering and a bit intimidating. “My conscious would eat me up if I had a bad season and I was making $25 million (for that year),” he said.

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