Originally created 05/12/05

Sonics still believe, but it could be an uphill climb



SEATTLE - Seattle coach Nate McMillan was asked Wednesday if he thinks the SuperSonics will be better served by minor tweaks or a dramatic overhaul going into Game 3 against San Antonio.

"I really don't know. You got any suggestions?" he asked.

Well, there's not enough time for big changes, but the Sonics sure could use a quick fix in Game 3 on Thursday night.

San Antonio leads the best-of-seven series 2-0, and judging from the Spurs' play there's no one in silver and black too concerned.

The Spurs demonstrated in the first round they can succeed on the road, winning twice in Denver, and they showed in the first two games against Seattle why they were among the preseason favorites to contend for the NBA title.

Seattle's biggest lead in the series has been two points. The Sonics, frustrated by San Antonio's swarming defense, are shooting 42 percent. It drops to 24 percent from 3-point range - normally a Seattle specialty.

"We've got to play close to perfect basketball," McMillan said. "We've been forced into a lot of turnovers. Our execution is not as sharp as it needs to be to beat this team. That's what a good team will do to you. They've played at the top of their game. We haven't."

San Antonio is getting outstanding play from its guards, with Tony Parker scoring 29 in Game 1 and Manu Ginobili coming off the bench for 28 on Tuesday night.

"We have to cut down on them getting into the lane and breaking our defense down," Seattle's Antonio Daniels said. "But it's easier said than done. Those are two very good guards. We did a nice job on Tony last game and Ginobili goes for 28. That's part of them being a good team."

The Spurs have won six straight playoff games since losing at home in the first-round opener against Denver. They're rolling now, and a compact series - three games in five nights - plays into their favor.

"There's not two or three days in between where teams can make huge adjustments," San Antonio guard Brent Barry said. "We're going to get right back. That bodes well for us in terms of the schemes that we're sticking with and the success we've had."

Not that Tim Duncan should ever be an afterthought, but the All-Star center looks as solid as ever, too. He had 22 points and nine rebounds in Game 1, then 25 points and nine rebounds in Game 2.

"We've been outplayed in the first two games in almost every area," Daniels said.

So what can Seattle do next?

Nothing's changed, as far as McMillan is concerned. The Sonics must reduce the 31 turnovers they committed in the first two games, and they must be more aggressive so San Antonio can't set up defensively.

Oh, and they've got to keep those pesky Spurs guards out of the paint. Parker and Ginobili devastated Seattle with their quick feet and penetration, though you'd never know it from their attitude.

"We have got to stay humble," Ginobili said. "Nobody cares that we won these first two. Winning over there is going to be hard, so we have to keep the same focus. Forget about the two wins and try to go there and get one win at least. Or two, of course, would be better."

The Sonics spent Wednesday watching film and going through a light workout. Ray Allen didn't meet with reporters, opting instead for treatment on the sprained ankle he sustained in Game 1.

It didn't slow Allen on Tuesday, as he logged 25 points, and he's expected back Thursday. Another positive for Seattle was the emergence of Rashard Lewis, who had 19 points in Game 1 and 22 in Game 2.

The Sonics hope to capitalize on the energy of their home crowd. While McMillan cautioned that playing at home "is not going to save us," Daniels and others insisted the series is far from over.

"I'm not going to say they've got us on our heels," forward Reggie Evans said. "We still have a lot of games left. We'll just keep our heads up, keep our spirits up and try to get a win tomorrow."