SuperSonics 98, Grizzlies 97
Allen’s 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds left on Sunday gave Seattle the lead and helped the SuperSonics defeat the San Antonio Spurs 106-102.
“Inside the first 20 to 25 games of the season, we were losing these games, getting beat by two and three points,” Allen said. “Over the last 10 games, it seems like we’re starting to win these games and putting some good things together.”
Allen dribbled to the left wing, and after Eddie Jones made a stab at the ball, Allen jumped left and shot the jumper which bounced on the rim before dropping through. Shane Battier’s inbounds lob as time ran out hit the backboard.
Allen noted that even the rim bounces on the winning shot benefited Seattle.
“It seemed as though it bounced the right number of times to where they really couldn’t get a shot off,” Allen said.
The Grizzlies had their seven-game winning streak snapped despite Gasol’s offensive effort. But Gasol’s points were part of the scheme Seattle devised against the Grizzlies, and Memphis didn’t have much of a supporting cast for its star.
Coach Bob Hill said the Sonics were not going to double-team Gasol in the post no matter how many points he scored, and leave the perimeter uncovered for the Grizzlies’ 3-point shooters. Consequently, Memphis was only 5-of-15 outside the arc.
“That was the game plan. We were going to let Gasol score,” Seattle forward Chris Wilcox said. “We just wanted to guard the perimeter. Last time we played them, we doubled him, and he hurt us by making passes to the other guys and they were getting in a rhythm. We just let him (score) and took away a lot of the 3-point shooting.”
Allen led the Sonics with 20 points and five assists, one of seven Seattle players in double figures. Johan Petro finished with 15 points and four blocks, while Rashard Lewis added 14 before being helped off the court with an ankle injury with 3:12 left.
Jones had 16 points for Memphis, while reserve Mike Miller added 11. Gasol, who was 17-of-28 from the field, grabbed nine rebounds.
The Sonics scored seven straight points midway through the final period and held an 89-86 lead with 5:21 left.
But Memphis retook the lead on Gasol’s runner that broke the franchise record, and back-to-back baskets by Miller. The Grizzlies held a 97-93 lead when Miller scored again on a fadeaway 15-footer with the shot clock running down and 1:07 left in the game.
Allen made his own 3-pointer with the shot clock running down to cut the lead to 97-96 with 41 seconds left. When Chucky Atkins’ near turnover led to a shot clock violation against Memphis with 17 seconds left, Seattle had one more chance.
“Great ‘D. Better shot,” Jones said of Allen’s winning basket. “That’s the only thing I can say about it. (He) made a heck of a shot. Got to take your hat off to that.”
The Grizzlies’ game plan was evident early, as the offense went through Gasol from the opening tip. In the first 4 minutes, the Grizzlies forward hit his first four shots and even had an assist as Memphis built a double-digit lead.
Memphis scored the game’s first 10 points and Gasol had 20 in the quarter, but Seattle still held the lead behind the long-range shooting of Ridnour with help from Lewis.
The SuperSonics built the lead to 12 points in the second quarter as Allen provided an offensive spark, scoring all of his 12 first-half points in the period. Seattle shot 56 percent in the half and carried a 59-49 lead into halftime.
Gasol had 26 points in the half.
Seattle maintained the lead until Memphis closed the third quarter with a 16-5 run, keyed by inside baskets from Gasol and 3-pointers from Jones and Bobby Jackson, to take an 80-76 lead into the final period.
Lewis’ injury was classified as a sprained right ankle, which occurred when he came down on Petro’s foot. X-rays were negative, but Lewis said he is unsure if he will be able to play Wednesday night when Seattle visits Houston. … Memphis had won the previous three against the Sonics this season by an average of 18 points. … Memphis C Jake Tsakalidis missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left thumb. The hard cast that Tsakalidis had worn since the injury was replaced with a softer one, but coach Mike Fratello said the center still could not grip the ball and had limited strength in the thumb. … Seattle F Nick Collison missed his 10th game with a left foot injury and is out indefinitely. … The game marked the return of Watson, who played for Memphis before signing with Denver this season. Watson came to Seattle in a four-team, nine-player deal on Feb. 23. … Gasol’s 20 first-quarter points were two short of the franchise record held by Greg Anthony in 1995.