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Originally published Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Sonics Notebook | Ridnour demoted in overhaul of lineup

Seattle's 10-game road losing streak going into the game didn't prompt coach Bob Hill to blow up the starting lineup as much as the team's...

Seattle Times staff reporter

OAKLAND, Calif. — Seattle's 10-game road losing streak going into the game didn't prompt coach Bob Hill to blow up the starting lineup as much as the team's performance in the first quarter of the previous three games.

"When you lose [10] in a row, you've got to do something," he said. "But honestly, we've gotten off to slow starts. That's it."

Because of the slow starts, Hill inserted three new starters and demoted point guard Luke Ridnour, who lost his job to Earl Watson. Nick Collison and rookie Mickael Gelabale, a first-time starter, joined Ray Allen and Chris Wilcox in the starting lineup for Saturday's game against Golden State at Oracle Arena.

The Sonics saw their road losing streak move to 11 after a 108-104 defeat.

During their overall three-game losing streak going into the game, the Sonics were outscored 101-73 in the first quarter and 75-61 in the third. They turned that around in the first quarter, outscoring Golden State 28-25. But the Sonics reverted to form in the third quarter, getting outscored 27-18.

Hill began training camp with an open competition at point guard between Watson and Ridnour, who reclaimed the job that he's held for the past 2 ½ seasons. The Sonics coach said he wasn't worried the demotion would negatively impact the fourth-year veteran.

"If we were 9-0 and I did this, then [I'd understand]," Hill said. "This is not all Luke's fault. This is the NBA."

Saturday's game at a glance

Player of the game: Despite the defeat, Ray Allen tossed in a season-high 38 points on 11-for-17 shooting, including seven three-pointers. He also had four assists.

Turning point: Tied 103-103, Golden State collected two offensive rebounds before Matt Barnes sank a layup that gave the Warriors a 105-103 lead.

Key statistic: Golden State was woeful from the free-throw line, converting 52.9 percent (18 of 34) of its attempts.

Up next: At Phoenix Suns, 6 p.m. Tuesday at US Airways Center.

Watson's season has taken a 180-degree turn since his long shooting slump and a public feud with Hill about playing time several weeks ago.

"It's always important to start," said Watson, who has been a backup for the bulk of his six-year career. "Any positive is important. Whether I play two minutes more than I played last night is important to me. The thing is with our situation we've got to get wins and that puts everything else in perspective where it's not as important as it was earlier in the season.

Notes

Danny Fortson stayed in Seattle because he feared his sore right knee would swell on the flight to the Bay Area. Hill was unsure if Fortson would fly to Phoenix for Tuesday's game against the Suns.

• Newcomer Andre Brown will be inserted into the rotation at power forward behind Wilcox.

SEATTLE
min fgm-a ftm-a or-t a pf pts
Gelabale 33:06 4-8 1-1 2-5 0 4 10
Wilcox 31:54 8-13 6-7 2-7 2 3 22
Collison 26:47 3-7 0-0 2-10 2 4 6
Allen 37:35 11-17 9-9 2-2 4 5 38
Watson 35:12 3-11 1-4 1-6 11 3 8
Petro 16:01 1-4 0-0 0-7 0 4 2
Ridnour 21:54 3-8 0-0 0-3 5 5 7
Brown 8:13 1-2 0-0 0-2 0 2 2
Wilkins 28:35 3-8 1-2 2-4 3 3 9
Wilks 0:43 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 37-78 18-23 11-46 27 33 104
Percentages: FG .474, FT .783. Three-point goals: 12-28, .429 (Allen 7-11, Wilkins 2-5, Gelabale 1-1, Ridnour 1-4, Watson 1-7). Team rebounds: 4. Team turnovers: 21 (22 PTS). Blocked shots: 4 (Collison 2, Gelabale 2). Turnovers: 20 (Allen 5, Ridnour 4, Watson 3, Wilcox 2, Wilkins 2, Collison, Petro, Gelabale, Brown). Steals: 9 (Ridnour 3, Allen 2, Wilkins 2, Wilcox, Gelabale). Technical fouls: None.
GOLDEN STATE
min fgm-a ftm-a or-t a pf pts
Pietrus 43:43 6-13 3-8 1-10 2 2 16
Barnes 35:22 5-15 0-1 0-3 2 4 11
Biedrins 35:11 6-11 3-4 8-16 1 3 15
Azubuike 10:56 1-2 2-4 1-3 0 2 5
Davis 48:00 9-19 2-4 2-7 11 5 22
Ellis 37:04 9-16 1-5 0-0 4 3 20
Murphy 8:00 1-1 0-0 1-2 1 0 2
Dunleavy 16:55 4-4 3-4 1-2 2 0 11
Foyle 0:10 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Diogu 4:39 1-3 4-4 1-1 0 0 6
Totals 42-84 18-34 15-44 23 19 108
Percentages: FG .500, FT .529. Three-point goals: 6-22, .273 (Davis 2-6, Azubuike 1-1, Ellis 1-3, Pietrus 1-4, Barnes 1-8). Team rebounds: 10. Team turnovers: 14 (16 PTS). Blocked shots: 5 (Biedrins 2, Barnes 2, Diogu). Turnovers: 14 (Davis 5, Dunleavy 3, Pietrus 3, Ellis 2, Biedrins). Steals: 5 (Ellis 2, Barnes 2, Davis). Technical fouls: None.
Seattle 28 29 18 29 — 104
Golden State 25 26 27 30 — 108
Attendance: 17,007 (19,596). Time: 2:18. Officials: Dick Bavetta, Jess Kersey, Robbie Robinson.

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