Bob Hill worried that a pregame moment of silence for the late Dennis Johnson and an extended halftime ceremony to retire Spencer Haywood's number would detract from his team's focus. He worried the return of former player and coach Nate McMillan, plus Brandon Roy and Martell Webster, would divide the KeyArena crowd.
Luke Ridnour, however, calmed his coach's concerns.
"Our fans root for the other teams a lot of nights," the Sonics guard said.
It wasn't necessarily a shot at the hometown fans. In fact, Hill said the Sonics have begun to forge a homecourt advantage at KeyArena. They have dominated their past three home games, including Monday's 97-73 win over Portland.
"We moved the ball and we didn't care who scored," said Ridnour, who finished with eight assists. "When we do that we're a good team."
The 24-point win was the Sonics' third straight home blowout by at least 16 points and snapped a two-game overall skid. Last-place Seattle (22-34) also pulled to one game behind Portland (24-34) in the Northwest Division.
While the crowd of 16,538 saved its largest applause of the night for Haywood, Rashard Lewis gave them other reasons to cheer.
Since returning from a right-hand injury seven games ago, the Sonics small forward has been playing at a pace that may also end with him raising his No. 7 jersey into the rafters one day.
"I do think about that sometimes, but also I think there's some guys ahead of me," said Lewis, who scored a game-high 29 points. "There's [Shawn] Kemp and Gary Payton, of course."
And what about Ray Allen?
The Sonics guard is fast moving up the franchise record list for scoring and shooting. He admitted that he was more than intrigued by the halftime ceremony honoring Haywood.
"We were watching it on TV and when they started to raise his number to the rafters, I went out to see," said Allen, who finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. "Those are moments you want to be a part of. You want to say that you watched that happen because that jersey is going to be sitting up there forever now."
Leading 43-35 at halftime, the Sonics, who never trailed, took control of the game in the third quarter. Lewis drained a three-pointer with 4:48 left for a 64-43 lead.
Perhaps learning from their last encounter, a 110-106 Portland victory in the season opener, Hill was not going to let Zach Randolph get 30 points 10 rebounds this time.
Whenever the Portland power forward touched the ball in the post Monday, the Sonics sent in an extra defender. The double-teaming tactic limited Randolph to 11 points and eight rebounds.
Reserve Travis Outlaw led the Blazers with 14 points and rookie LaMarcus Aldridge had 12. Roy, a former Washington Husky, finished with just six points and Webster, a Seattle Prep grad, had four.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com