Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Living through the Heat wave without a scratch.

From sports.yahoo.com:
For one week at least, Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat met their match in Danny Fortson and the revitalized Seattle SuperSonics.

Vladimir Radmanovic scored a season-high 27 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and the Sonics beat the Heat for the second time in six days, 108-98 on Sunday night.

The Sonics ended the Heat's franchise-record 14-game winning streak on Monday night in Miami.

``It was a physical matchup,'' Dwyane Wade said of the inside duel between O'Neal and Fortson. ``Shaq got the best of that matchup, but the Sonics got the best of the Heat.''

Radmanovic hit three of his five 3-pointers in the final period and the Sonics ended a two-game losing streak by outscoring the Heat 13-1 in the final 4:40.

Radmanovic came within two points of his career high and shot 11-for-17, including 5-for-9 from 3-point range, after being limited to a total of 12 points in losses at Washington and Orlando.

``Two games don't mean much during the season,'' said Radmanovic, a four-year veteran from Bosnia-Hercegovina. ``You don't lose your confidence because of just two games. You have to come back and not even think about it.''

O'Neal had 28 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Heat, who had an eight-game road winning streak broken, but Radmanovic, who had 21 points in the second half, and the Sonics' reserves outscored their Miami counterparts 66-17.

``That's been a big part of our success when we've had the second unit playing well,'' Sonics coach Nate McMillan said.

Fortson had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Sonics, who got only 15 points from Ray Allen. Allen had 35 points in Monday night's game.

``You know that doesn't happen a lot,'' McMillan said of Allen's offnight.

Eddie Jones scored 19 points and Wade 16 for the Heat.

Acquired in a July trade with Dallas for center Calvin Booth, Fortson's rebounding and inside toughness have been a major part of the Sonics' success. They won only 37 games last season.

The 6-foot-8 Fortson said he gets extra motivation to play against the 7-1, 325-pound O'Neal.

``You've got to kind of lean a little bit on him, too,'' Fortson said. ``He leans people so you've got to give him a little bit of the same thing he does. I think at the end of the night, we both were just out there sucking wind.''

O'Neal didn't score a point after getting a dunk and a free throw with 7:38 left. He acknowledged Fortson wore him out.

``They get it going on the pick and roll and he just bulldozes his way in there,'' O'Neal said.

Miami coach Stan Van Gundy agreed with his new starting center.

``It was the same deal for us as it was in Miami,'' he said. ``They just took us apart with pick and rolls in the second half. They were great on pick and rolls.''

Leading 97-95 after a driving layup by Eddie Jones with 5:07 to go, the Heat had only a free throw by Wade with 43.9 seconds left.

The Heat were limited to 41 points in the second half.

``I felt like our defense really picked up in the third quarter,'' Seattle's Antonio Daniels said. ``When we play well defensively, it kind of carries over.''

Luke Ridnour tied the score at 97-all for the Sonics with two free throws with 4:40 to go and Fortson put Seattle ahead to stay with a free throw with 4:10 left. Radmanovic followed with a fastbreak dunk on a pass by Ridnour with 3:40 on the clock.

The Sonics led by 10 points at 93-83 with 7:56 left after Radmanovic hit a 3-pointer. But O'Neal had a three-point play and Damon Jones made consecutive 3-pointers to cut the Heat's deficit to 93-92 before Wade converted a three-point play to put Miami in front 95-93 with 5:55 on the clock.

The Sonics grabbed their first lead since 2-0 when Radmanovic sank a 3-pointer with 23.6 seconds left in the third quarter. That put them ahead 79-78 and Ridnour added two free throws with 3.7 seconds on the clock for an 81-78 advantage after three periods.

The Heat led 57-49 at halftime and had their biggest lead at 61-49 in the first minute of the third period.
I think finally ending the streak of the Heat really brings light to all the fans in Seattle and to all the other teams' fans in the NBA. We really showed them that the Heat are by no means indestructible because of Shaq. On another note, Vladimir played a great game, beating his career high and leading us to another win over the Heat. Although we have been studdering lately, I think if we play like we did against the Heat, we will really pull ahead of the pack, so to speak. Lets keep the cheers alive for the SuperSonics!

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