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02 February 2005

Spurs vs. Sonics, Part I

My wife is typically a sweet person, but at times she can be easily annoyed. For example, waiting outside an arena in cold weather would make her, uhh, let's say "not so friendly." So when I suggested getting to the game when the doors opened she was skeptical. She specifically asked if I was sure the Key Arena doors opened at 5:30.

"Babe, I'm looking at the website right now. I'm semi-literate, and it clearly says that the doors open at 5:30. And concessions are 25% off for the first hour!"


"OK, but you better be right."

Needless to say the doors didn't open until about 6:15. That was a fun 45 minutes, let me tell you. The worst part was the delay was mostly due to a damned umbrella give away. Ugh.

And these weren't the small, travel sized umbrellas. These were the huge golf umbrellas with the pointy metal cap on the end. So, uh, I can't bring in a leatherman but you're going to pass out metal-capped projectiles. Makes sense. Would this ever happen at, say, a Sixers game? Is there any way we can replay the Pacers vs. fans fight, except this time the fans have golf umbrellas?

The Sonics have a cool policy where they actually incourage (with announcements) fans to go to the first couple of rows to watch the players warm up. When we arrived Nobili, Rasho, Horry and Massenburg were taking shots. Nobili was taking some 15-18 footers off the dribble and Rasho was working on post moves. Massenburg was practicing looking tough and Horry wasn't doing much of anything. Barry later joined them and took about 100 3-pointers.

My wife summed it up pretty well when she said "Wow, Manu Ginobili's right there."

A Spanish speaking woman in front of us got her picture taken with Manu. This was the only time Manu stood still for more than two seconds, so I took advantage.

When he left the court he spent about 10 minutes signing autographs. Horry signed some, too. It was nice to see that.

We headed up to our seats, which were good, but not great. A little too far away for action photos during the game, which I didn't really mind.

I always like to watch teams go through the lay-up drills, etc. before the game. It's interesting to see who pairs up with who for little games of one on one, and how much fun they have with each other just goofing off. You sometimes forget that these guys really love to play basketball.

Bowen and Duncan faced off, and at one point Bowen took a pretty vicious swipe at the ball as Tim was going up. He got all ball, but it still made me cringe. We cannot have The Cornerstone dislocating a finger during freaking warmups. Bowen should try that crap on Marks. Or The Doghouse. Anybody but Timmeh.

So, as you probably know, Ray Allen was out with scabies or something and McMillan was with family due to his mothers death. So the game was a little anticlimactic. The crowd was pumped, especially for a Seattle crowd, but the impact of the contest was lost. This was no longer a statement game for the Spurs. This was simply another must-win game, like facing the Hornets without Baron or the Kings with Webber.

The Sonics virtually gave the game away before it even started by starting Flip Murray in Ray Allen's place. Murray missed the first ~month of the season and had only played sparingly since returning. He's shooting 37% (30% from three) and all of the sudden he's supposed to replace Ray's 24 PPG? Yeah, I'm sure they told him not to try and do everything by himself, but he sure didn't listen, hoisting up 17 shots (6 more than any other Sonic) and only making 5 of them. Seattle should have started former Spur Antonio Daniels and had Flip take over in the "spark plug off the bench" role.

The first quarter was odd. Jerome James, who usually spends more time pulling his shorts up than actually doing anything useful, clearly outplayed Duncan during the first 12 minutes. At one point, with the shot clock running down, Jerome drove from around the three-point line and made a driving lay up. He finished the quarter with 8 points and basically took the next two quarters off. Bowen led the way for the Spurs, hitting his first four ridiculously wide-open jumpers. Apparently the Sonics game plan was to not cover Bowen. When Parker threw a cross-court pass for Bowen's fourth basket of the quarter you could hear the crowd actually groaning. One of those "how the hell is he that wide-open AGAIN?" groans.

The first quarter also featured Pop blowing a gasket and nearly getting tossed. The refs, specifically this one, were AWFUL. Thankfully they were approximately equally awful both ways. They would miss total hacks and then call ridiculous touch fouls. There was one point, in the fourth quarter, where the Sonics were mounting a little bit of a run. Daniels drove the lane for a layup and good ole' Leon blew his whistle from about 40' a way. Duncan was closest so he got the foul. I honestly think Leon just wanted to hear the crowd go nuts. He was probably thinking "They love me! They really love me!"

Somewhere about the six minute mark a lone Sonics fan grabbed the empty seat in front of us. He was sporting a Sonics jacket, a personalized Sonics jersey over a Sonics shirt and a hat of the local minor league hockey team. Readers, meet A-Mac. He's number one people! He was also alone. Uh-oh. I've seen this before. For some reason I have this knack for attracting belligerent fans. Concerts, sporting events, scrapbook parties, doesn't matter. I always find myself next to a drunk bonehead.

The second quarter could have been subtitled "The Spurs Will Now Show That the Sonics Have Absolutely No Idea How to Defend the Pick and Roll." Manu Ginobili, in the space of seven minutes, got to the rim four separate times, all on pick and rolls from the top of the key. Each time Jerome James stood in the middle of the lane. And each time Manu would take two long steps right by him and lay it up. It was sort of embarrasing. The crowd was going crazy. And at this point Flip was something like 1-9. This incited the Token Drunk Guy in Abercrombie Shirt to start screaming "Flip, you SUUUUUCCCCK!" By the end of the game he was hoarse.

The second quarter also featured the Danny Fortson Special. I love watching this man play the game. All he does is rebound and assault people. He averages 12.2 fouls per 48 minutes. So, if he played the whole game, he would foul out twice. Needless to say he leads the league. Anyways, the Danny Fortson Special involves three things. First, Danny Fortson grabs an offensive rebound. Second, Danny Fortson finds the nearest defender and assaults him with his lowered shoulder. Third, Danny Fortson prances around with his hands in the air and pig tails a-flying, all while sporting The Derek Fisher "I Cannot Believe You Just Called That Foul" face. The crowd, of course, booed heartily, wanting to believe that Danny Fortson was singled out by the refs.

Now, I am not a boisterous sports fan. Especially when I'm in the other team's building. I just want to watch the game and avoid conflict. My wife, on the other hand, doesn't give a shit. Don't get me wrong, she's not standing on her chair yelling obscenities, but everyone around her knows who's she rooting for. I try to convince her to tone it down a bit, especially with the wild card A-Mac in front of us. So, with about 3 minutes to go in the first half Nobili gets fouled. The following ensues:

-Nobili misses free throw
-A-Mac loudly claps about fifteen times
-Nobili misses second free throw
-A-Mac loudly claps about fifteen more times
-Wife says "I think I'm going to have to beat A-Macs ass" a little too loudly. Thankfully he doesn't hear her.
-I beg her to keep it down.
-She responds with "I am NOT changing my game plan for him."

What the hell? My wife has a game plan?

Part II will follow tomorrow. I'll add some pictures then as well.

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.