Notebook: Collison lands in starting lineup
Sonics coach Bob Weiss knew he had a vacancy at power forward when the season began, but intentionally didn't give much thought to filling...
Seattle Times staff reporter
TORONTO — Sonics coach Bob Weiss knew he had a vacancy at power forward when the season began, but intentionally didn't give much thought to filling it with Nick Collison.
Back then, Weiss believed his team was better served with Collison contributing as a reserve and working in tandem with backup forward Danny Fortson.
But after three straight blowout defeats in which the Sonics' interior defense was ripped to shreds, allowing a combined 152 points in the paint, Weiss had a different opinion.
"We need to shore up the middle," he said. "We've been getting killed in there."
Before Sunday's game, Weiss replaced Reggie Evans, who had started every game, with Collison and had 7-foot rookie center Johan Petro trade places with Vitaly Potapenko. The changes helped to account for a 126-121 overtime victory over Toronto.
Collectively, Seattle's defense was marginally improved, as it allowed 42 points in the paint. But Collison had nine of his game- and career-high-tying 12 rebounds on the defensive end and Petro collected seven of his 10 boards on defense.
"It really didn't change my focus, but it made me more aware to get warmed up and be ready to go right away," said Collison, who made his first start of the season. "Other than that, it was the same."
Play of the game: Toronto reserve forward Charlie Villanueva moved between Sonics rookie Johan Petro and Nick Collison to retrieve a missed three-pointer at the rim and flushed it home. The dunk, his third of the game, cut Seattle's lead to 113-105 with 2:29 left in the fourth quarter.
Turning point: Neither team did much of anything in overtime until Luke Ridnour connected with a cutting Collison for a layup that put Seattle ahead 123-119 at the two-minute mark.
Digits: Seattle attempted 49 free throws and hit 41, both season highs.
Next: At New Jersey, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Continental Airlines Arena.
Well, not quite. With the 6-10 forward in the starting lineup, the Sonics were more effective offensively than they had been this season. Collision's career-high 20 points were the most from a Sonic this season not named Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis.
Petro started the first three games, but lost his job and was inactive in Friday's 137-96 defeat at Washington. He might have made an impact offensively if it wasn't for his 1-for-6 shooting at the free-throw line.
Because of the changes, Evans has been demoted to a minor role. He played just 5:21 on Sunday and finished with two points and two rebounds.
• Second-year C Robert Swift was moved to the active roster Sunday, but did not play. To make room for Swift, G Mateen Cleaves was placed on the inactive list along with G Rick Brunson and Potapenko.
• After six games, Seattle has used three different lineups. Weiss said he plans to stick with the current lineup at least through Tuesday's game at New Jersey.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.