Insult to injury: Spurs leave Sonics beaten and battered
By GARY WASHBURN
SAN ANTONIO -- Reality told Bob Hill to limit his hopes to a good showing Tuesday night in his return to San Antonio. A win against one of the league's premier teams was too much to desire.
Hill received 2 1/2 quarters of quality basketball from the Sonics before they broke down. Rashard Lewis left the game in the third quarter with a sprained right ankle. Chris Wilcox slowly walked back to the bench after dislocating his left middle finger. And Luke Ridnour hobbled around with a sprained left ankle, chasing Tony Parker.
The Spurs ran away from the Sonics 103-78 at the AT&T Center, drubbing Hill in his first game in San Antonio since being fired by the Spurs more than eight years ago. Hill, who had not talked with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich since the latter fired him and then took his job, shook hands with Popovich before the game.
But he had to be slightly embarrassed after his club melted down in the second half, allowing the Spurs to dominate the boards and shoot uncontested 3-pointers while Parker ran around like Marcus Haynes for 30 points.
The 25-point loss was a crushing way to begin the second half of the season but possibly a prologue to the final 28 games as the Sonics play out the string.
"We've got to get to Atlanta and get healthy before (tonight) because we've got a lot of guys banged up," Hill said. "We couldn't do much with Tony Parker. We took away his angles to run, but he still managed to get to the basket."
San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker of France, center, splits the defense of Seattle SuperSonics' Damien Wilkins, left, and Chris Wilcox during the third quarter of their NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006, in San Antonio. The Spurs won 103-78.
Hours after finding out Robert Swift could miss an extended period of time with a displaced nasal fracture suffered in practice, the Sonics were hit with another rash of injuries. The most serious could be Lewis, who said his left ankle has not improved since he twisted it Feb. 8 against New Orleans/Oklahoma City.
Lewis left the game with 4:38 left in the third period and will have an MRI exam performed today in Atlanta. He is concerned.
"It's been bothering me ever since Oklahoma City, it bothered me this weekend and it bothered me tonight," he said. "I feel like something else is wrong with it because every time I run on it, it gets more sore. It's not getting any better. I don't know if we're wearing out or just giving up, but nothing seems to be going our way right now."
Wilcox dislocated his finger ramming into Parker's knee during a drive and had it popped back into place during the game. He was X-rayed after the game and said he is unsure whether he will play tonight against the Hawks.
His play was one of the few bright spots. He had adapted quickly to the offense and scored eight points with six rebounds in 22 minutes.
Ridnour, meanwhile, said X-rays on his ankle were negative and he said he should be back tonight. Since the Sonics were in the process of getting blown out, Hill told Ridnour to rest on the bench.
The Sonics trailed just 46-39 at halftime despite shooting 31 percent in the first 24 minutes. The Spurs went on a 14-7 run in the middle of the third quarter for a 70-54 lead, and the game was essentially over.
San Antonio (41-12), playing its first home game since Jan. 28, dominated the paint, which created wide-open perimeter shots.
Defensive-minded Bruce Bowen hit five 3-pointers while Michael Finley added four off the bench as the Spurs hit a season-best 11.
But more disappointing for the Sonics was their lack of rebounding. Forward Fabricio Oberto, known more for his name than his on-court prowess, grabbed eight offensive rebounds in 17 minutes
Tim Duncan, not a major offensive factor, pulled down 16 rebounds in 32 minutes.
"They're a great team," Hill admitted. "They are long, play together. They are built to win a championship."
Hill pushed aside the bitterness and disappointment generated by his firing. He spent the past several days at his San Antonio-area ranch watching his son play basketball at nearby Trinity University. He wanted to come back to San Antonio a winner. He will just have to be satisfied with coming back.
"It was great (coming here), I still have a home here so it was like homecoming," he said.
"It was a lot of fun. Not to diminish their win, but we had some guys go down tonight."
that was the first time all year they looked like a championship team. great win.
"...and with the hiring rate that Hallmark Institute has of this graduates, that's only more incentive for you want to do something here."
And about his on-court prowess at list he is going to have a shot for a ring, a thing that any Sonic can only dream about.
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