SuperSonics 103, Cavaliers 86
Allen scored 31 points, Vladimir Radmanovic made five 3-pointers and the Sonics reached the 40-win plateau, beating Cleveland 103-86 on Wednesday night to spoil Dan Gilbert’s first game as the Cavaliers’ owner.
Allen made three 3s and the surprising Sonics, one of the NBA’s best outside shooting teams, went 10-of-17 from behind the arc to improve to 40-16 this season and 5-1—4-1 on the road—since the All-Star break.
Predicted by many to finish at the bottom of the Northwest Division, Seattle, which went just 37-45 a season ago, entered with a 12-game lead.
“I remember in my rookie year predicting we would win 45 games,” Allen said. “I had no idea how hard that was going to be until now. Forty wins is not easy. It means a lot to this team and franchise.”
Radmanovic finished with 19 points and Rashard Lewis added 20 for the Sonics, who have identical 20-8 marks at home and on the road.
In two wins over Cleveland this season, Seattle is 20-for-39 on 3-pointers.
“I’ll take that any day,” Allen said. “If people in Cleveland were seeing us for the first time, I could see how they’d say we were the best shooting team in the NBA.”
Meanwhile, Gilbert, who sat in a courtside seat for much of the first half, might be questioning the soundness of his $375 million investment as the Cavaliers dropped their fourth straight game.
Cleveland’s slide is its longest this season. After leading the Central Division for much of the first half, the Cavaliers are dropping back into the Eastern Conference’s second tier with a tough stretch of games against Philadelphia, Miami, Orlando and Indiana looming.
LeBron James scored 32 points, matching a career high with five 3-pointers for Cleveland. But the All-Star guard spent the final 3:06 watching from the bench after the Sonics had wrapped it up.
“We need a win,” Cavs coach Paul Silas said. “We need to win bad. It’s a rough time for us.”
Cleveland was within 91-81 with 6:50 left and seemed poised to make a run, but Lewis drained Seattle’s final 3-pointer and Allen dropped a 17-footer from the corner to send Cleveland fans toward the exits.
James was impressed by everything the Sonics did.
“They’re multidimensional,” he said. “They got guys who can shoot, put it on the floor. I think they’ve got a chance to win the NBA championship.”
Allen will be a free agent this summer, and would be a nice fit with the Cavaliers. He was asked if he felt he was auditioning for Gilbert.
“I’m auditioning every game,” he said. “Not because of a contract but because you have to play your best every night.”
Seattle blew all of its nine-point halftime lead in the third quarter, but tied at 65-all, Radmanovic hit a 3-pointer during an 11-2 spurt he capped with a jumper in the final second, giving the Sonics a 78-69 lead.
With Ilgauskas on the bench with two fouls, the Sonics began to pull away in the second quarter, building a 16-point lead in the second quarter before James and the Cavaliers finally woke up.
James scored on a breathtaking alley-oop dunk from McInnis and finished the second quarter by draining a pair of 3-pointers as Cleveland cut it to 54-45 at halftime. James hit two more 3s in the opening minutes of the third period and the Cavs caught the Sonics at 65-65 on Ilgauskas’ layup.
Gilbert addressed the Gund Arena crowd during a timeout in the second quarter. “It’s the last time I’ll talk on floor until we win a championship,” he said. “It’s not about me. It’s about the players.” … When Radmanovic banked in a 3-pointer in the first half, referee Jess Kersey ran by Silas and yelled, “He called glass.” … Allen, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, said players appreciate it when an owner goes the extra mile by improving amenities like locker rooms, team planes, hospitality rooms and practice facilities. “We notice that stuff,” he said. … The Sonics are 8-1 in their gold uniforms. … Cavs G Lucious Harris had the flu and was sent home before the game. … Cavs F Anderson Varejao reinjured his left ankle at practice Tuesday and didn’t dress. He was activated Monday after missing 14 games with a high sprain.