SuperSonics 106, Hawks 85
SEATTLE (AP)—Forget Rashard Lewis scoring 23 points and throwing down a highlight-reel dunk after a teammate’s missed shot.
“Just hustling, playing hard and being aggressive on the defensive end,” he said. “I knew Antoine Walker and Al Harrington were guys they were going to feed off of. I was just roaming around to get my hands on every ball I could.”
Walker led the Hawks with 24 points and eight rebounds, but he committed six of Atlanta’s 19 turnovers and had only one second-half rebound. Harrington had 14 points and Kenny Anderson 10.
Both teams were blown out in their openers, each losing by 30. The Hawks went down at Phoenix and the Sonics at the L.A. Clippers.
“I like the way the team responded,” Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. “We knew that we could play a good game and play much better.”
There were times when this matchup lived down to its billing. There were plenty of early season defensive lapses and sloppy ball-handling. The Sonics committed 15 turnovers and Atlanta had 19.
“It’s a work in progress,” Harrington said. “This is only the second game. We’ve got a lot of new guys who are trying to learn each other. It’s going to be a process, but we should be able to win games and not be blown out.”
The difference was that the Sonics made their shots when they needed them and pulled away after halftime. After hitting 37 percent from the floor in Los Angeles, Seattle looked much better by making 50 percent this time.
They also had more energy.
“We tried to get as many passes as we could and we really tried to play hard on the defensive end,” Lewis said. “We were able to get some stops and get some easy baskets.”
Walker and Harrington wore down in the second half, and Atlanta coach Mike Woodson wondered if he gave them too many minutes. Seattle’s big men, though, deserve credit for muscling up on them.
“They were getting tired,” Allen said. “We were throwing bodies on them, pounding and pounding them. Reggie (Evans) and Jerome (James) did a good job. They were solid down low defensively.
Added Evans: “That’s the only way we’re going to win. Everybody on our team has got to do their part. Everybody has a role.”
Seattle led 79-64 going into the fourth quarter, closing the third with a 12-2 run. After the Hawks cut it to 65-62 on Peja Drobnjak’s basket with 4:21 left in the period, Lewis drove for a bucket, Allen hit a 3-pointer and Lewis made another 3.
The Sonics kept it going in the fourth, and it was 88-68 after Daniels’ two free throws with 9:04 to play.
Allen got the Sonics off to a good start, too, hitting 7-of-9 for 18 first-half points. He scored 20 on 7-of-18 shooting against the Clippers, but this time finished 10-of-16 from the floor.
“I drafted Ray in Milwaukee,” Woodson said. “Ray can score in a variety of ways.”
Seattle Storm coach Anne Donovan received a standing ovation when she was introduced in the first half, showing off the team’s WNBA championship trophy. … Atlanta C Kevin Willis started in place of Jason Collier, who missed the first of at least two games with severe bronchitis. Willis, who scored six, is eight games from No. 1,400 in his 20-year NBA career. … Seattle’s first-round draft pick, C Robert Swift, played the final 2:19 in his NBA debut. He got a big cheer when he scored his first point, a free throw with 57.6 seconds on the clock. … By halftime, James had four blocks and Lewis three.