Normally it would have been Ray Allen's shot.
Holding the ball with an open jumper in sight, the guard usually takes the shot. But on Friday he opted to swing the ball over to teammate Rashard Lewis, which is probably the best decision Allen made. Lewis stepped back to make his first of six three-pointers in a 111-99 win over Portland.
More importantly, he defeated his former coach, Nate McMillan, who played a part in developing Lewis' game until McMillan's departure last summer, ending a 19-year relationship with the Sonics.
McMillan and Lewis remain in contact. The coach even called the player when news broke about his DUI, offering encouragement, and often checks in when the two have time to talk. Lewis still wanted to defeated McMillan, however, envisioning it before the game.
"The first one is going to be sweet," he said.
Lewis' words turned out to be prophetic. He hit three-pointers, reverse layups and midrange jump shots. The Sonics played stifling defense. And when Allen hit a three-pointer with 5:50 remaining in the second quarter, the Sonics were ahead 60-27.
Lewis scored 23 of those points.
Afterward the All-Star said the first half felt familiar, like when he scored 50 against the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003. Against the Trail Blazers, Lewis finished with 37 points on 12-for-19 shooting from the field.
"It seemed like every time I got the ball, it was going in," said Lewis, whose total was a season high and ranked third on his all-time scoring list. "I thought I might have got 50 tonight, but I didn't get there. Ray got hot and I didn't want to be selfish, so we went to him."
Lewis has been frustrated at the amount of shot attempts he's had lately. Because of the caliber of player he is, he and Sonics coach Bob Weiss want him attempting 20 shots a game. He hasn't reached that plateau since the Sonics' win against Cleveland on December 2. The Sonics are 3-4 since then. But even point guard Luke Ridnour admitted the team looses Lewis in its offense. The Sonics' transition game is a free-for-all and the half-court offense has been going through Allen. Lewis isn't blaming Allen or Ridnour, however. He has been thinking about his shot production for a while. After Weiss talked to him Friday about being more vocal and aggressive, Lewis said he put the pressure on himself to be more assertive offensively.
"But I still didn't get 20 shots!" he said after looking over the final box score.
No one in the game did. With the Sonics nursing a hefty lead, the Blazers were the more spirited team in the second half, shooting 61.3 percent from the field as they clawed back from the 33-point deficit.
Portland outscored the Sonics 18-4 during a run in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit 104-96 with 1:16 remaining. McMillan called for his team to foul forward Reggie Evans, hoping the Sonic would miss the shots as usual to keep the Blazers' run going. Evans made the baskets and flashed a smile McMillan's way.
McMillan returned the coy glance. It was a flashback game the Sonics haven't experienced since McMillan paced Seattle's sideline. The Sonics entered the matchup on a three-game losing streak and have been more unpredictable than the lottery this season.
"We got off to a terrible start," said McMillan, who was missing key players Sebastian Telfair and Darius Miles due to injury. "Despite what we did in the last quarter, we talk about playing a 48-minute game, not a 36 or 24. We just looked hesitant."
Only forward Vladimir Radmanovic didn't play in the blowout. Weiss said that's because forward Nick Collison was replaced in the starting lineup by Vitaly Potapenko for the second consecutive game. The Sonics have a logjam at the forward/center position, leaving one player out, which was Radmanovic the past two games.
"I didn't want to stick him out there to play garbage minutes," Weiss said of Radmanovic. "That's more of a respect thing. Especially since he's a player that's normally in the rotation."
In other NBA action: Golden State 108, Toronto 98; Atlanta 122, New York 111; Indiana 93, Utah 83; Milwaukee 100, Boston 96; New Jersey 115, Denver 106, OT; Phoenix 101, New Orleans 88; Detroit 110, Chicago 82; Miami 112, Philadelphia 105; Dallas 109, Orlando 103, OT; LA Lakers 97, Washington 91.