Tuesday, October 23, 2007
(10-23) 23:54 PDT Seattle (AP)
Brandan Wright had been buried far down Golden State's bench. His late-game efforts Tuesday night have coach Don Nelson reconsidering the rookie's role on the team.
Wright, who didn't enter the game until midway through the fourth quarter, scored seven points, including a clutch follow basket with 47 seconds left in overtime to help the Warriors to a 126-122 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
"The whole game was good, bad and ugly. My best player on the court was Brandan Wright. He was just terrific and I wasn't even going to play him," Nelson said. "He's got something special because he's so long and quick. He got to balls no one else on the team could have gotten."
Seattle rookie Kevin Durant, the No. 2 pick in the draft, left the game with 2:10 remaining in regulation with a sprained left ankle. He left the arena using crutches and was wearing a soft boot, and won't play in either of the Sonics' remaining preseason games.
Nelson didn't want to play the rookie from North Carolina because "he hasn't had an outstanding practice or an outstanding game, he's just learning, he's light, he's young, just turned 20. But I finally said, 'Let's stick him in there and see how he does.' He definitely got my attention. I have to do a double-take on him now."
With the Warriors (4-2) leading just 121-120 and inside of a minute left in overtime, Wright positioned himself underneath. On a missed shot by Monta Ellis shot, Wright sliced inside, grabbed the rebound and put it in for a three-point lead.
Wally Szczerbiak hit a jumper with 21 seconds left to draw the Sonics within two points, but Ellis, Matt Barnes and Marco Belinelli each made a free throw to keep the Sonics at bay.
"I'm always ready to play. When Coach calls me you have to go out there and do the best you can," Wright said. "When a shot goes up, you have to go to the boards. It's instincts and being able to use your athletic ability and quickness to get to the glass."
Szczerbiak had a chance to give the Sonics (1-5) the lead with 25 seconds left in regulation. He had tied the game at 113 with a fast-break layup and was fouled, but missed the free throw. The Warriors couldn't get off a final shot in regulation.
Damien Wilkins shot 10-of-21 and scored a preseason-best 27 points for the Sonics. Szczerbiak came off the bench to score 24, Chris Wilcox had 22 and Durant had 21.
Golden State had a balanced offense with eight players in double figures, led by Barnes with 16. Baron Davis had 14 but he was held out of the entire second half by Nelson.
The Sonics, 29th in team defense after allowing 106.8 points per game, had given up 126, 117 and 126 points in their last three games, all losses.
The Warriors built an 11-point lead in the first quarter as Mickael Pietrus contributed seven points. But he hit the bench with 3:43 left with three fouls and didn't return until the fourth quarter.
Pietrus' exit began the Seattle response, led by Szczerbiak. He scored 14 of his 16 first-half points in the second period. His 3-pointer with 9:35 left in the half gave the Sonics their first lead, 35-33.
The Sonics closed the half with a 12-0 spurt in a span of 1:24 for a 68-61 lead at intermission.
The Sonics led by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter but allowed the Warriors back into it.
"We're young in terms of us being together and being able to execute," Sonics first-year coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "It was the careless passes and busted rotations that hurt us the most."
With one preseason game remaining, Nelson was asked to compare his team to last season's playoff team. He said he's still not sure.
"That's (Seattle) not a good team and they almost beat us tonight," Nelson said. "So I don't know where that puts us. They're kind of a fun team but they're so young. They're going to suffer until those guys learn how to play. P.J. has a tough job. I really don't know what to expect from us."
Carlesimo held out center Robert Swift and guard Delonte West to rest them.
Seattle plays two more preseason games, Wednesday at Portland and Friday against Phoenix in Vancouver, British Columbia. Golden State finishes its preseason Friday at the Los Angeles Clippers.
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