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Thursday, January 5, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sonics

Sonics Notes: Potapenko asks to be traded

Seattle Times staff reporter

CHICAGO — Once the upheaval from the coaching change settles, Vitaly Potapenko said he will ask the Sonics for a trade, perhaps as early as next week when the team returns from its five-game trip.

Since new coach Bob Hill, who replaced Bob Weiss on Tuesday, has decided to reserve minutes at center for Johan Petro and Robert Swift, Potapenko believes his services are no longer needed in Seattle.

"I'm not going to lie, I'm not happy," he said. "I still want to play. It's not like I'm 35 years old. But he's the coach. It's his decision, and I'll see how it goes.

"If the team doesn't need me, I don't want to be here. It's nothing personal. They have two young centers, and I think they should develop them and develop them by playing.

But we'll see how it goes. It's just so many changes right now. They got rid of the head coach. They got rid of Mateen [Cleaves]. There's a lot of changes right now."

Exam for Allen today

Ray Allen will have his right eye evaluated by an ophthalmologist in Detroit today after catching an elbow from the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich. Trainers said he didn't scratch his cornea, but want to rule out the possibility that he did damage behind the pupil.

Star of the game: Rashard Lewis tied for game scoring honors with 21 points and carried the Sonics in the final five minutes.

Play of the game: Vladimir Radmanovic missed a three-pointer from the corner and rookie Johan Petro cleaned up with an emphatic putback dunk that gave Seattle a 62-48 lead with 7:47 left in the third quarter.

Turning point: With the Sonics leading 99-97 with 12.9 seconds left, the Bulls' Ben Gordon failed to corral a loose ball on a jump ball and possession went to Seattle. The Sonics ran out most of the clock and Luke Ridnour sealed the victory with two free throws with three seconds left.

Quote: "We've got a 7-foot center who can run like a deer. He's probably going to get into foul trouble in the first two minutes of the game. And when I take him out, I'll put in another young one, and at the four-minute mark, they'll both have two fouls and Danny Fortson will be in the game." — New Sonics coach Bob Hill, on young centers Johan Petro and Robert Swift.

Up next: at Detroit on Friday, 5 p.m., FSN

Allen had 20 points, including four three-pointers, before missing the game's final 9:14.

High on Petro

Coach Bob Hill was pleased with rookie Johan Petro, who was re-inserted in the staring lineup, and Robert Swift, who played his fourth game of the season.

Petro struggled at the start as he collected a foul in the first minute and was responsible for two first-quarter turnovers on three-second violations. He fouled out with 6:14 remaining after collecting nine rebounds and scoring six points in 31 minutes.

Swift entered with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter. He failed to grab a rebound and had two points on 1-for-2 shooting in 7 minutes, 46 seconds.

Said Hill: "I thought the bigs were great. ... It was so fun to see somebody get a rebound above the rim."

Cleaves waived

The Sonics saved about $600,000 when they waived reserve guard Mateen Cleaves on Wednesday before contracts in the NBA became guaranteed. He earned about $270,000 this season.

Cleaves averaged 3.4 points, 1.7 assists and 9.3 minutes in 19 games.

Notes

• In a poll on The Seattle Times Web site, just 11 percent of the respondents said Bob Weiss should have been given more time, while 38 percent voted that the decision to replace him with Bob Hill was a good move and that there is still time to save the season. Over half of the 3,499 respondents said the Sonics should have tried to keep former coach Nate McMillan, who left for Portland last summer.

• F Danny Fortson (sore left knee) went to the locker room in the third quarter and returned to the bench in street clothes.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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