Blazers, McMillan tip Sonics
Shedding the title Mr. Sonic for now, Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan coached his new team’s first preseason game – a victory against the Seattle SuperSonics.
Zach Randolph, returning from microfracture surgery to his right knee late last season, had 16 points and eight rebounds and the Blazers beat the Sonics 82-75 Wednesday night.
McMillan was hired by the northwest rival Trail Blazers in the off-season after he failed to agree to a contract with the Sonics.
It was surprising in that McMillan spent five years as head coach of the Sonics, where before that he was an assistant coach after a 12-year career as a player, earning the nickname Mr. Sonic. His jersey hangs in the rafters of Key Arena.
But Blazers owner Paul Allen lured McMillan south.
The Sonics replaced him with Bob Weiss, who spent 11 seasons as an assistant with the Sonics under George Karl, Paul Westphal and McMillan.
McMillan replaces Maurice Cheeks, who was popular with the players and the fans, but was nonetheless fired last March and replaced in the interim by Blazers director of player personnel Kevin Pritchard.
The Blazers finished the season 27-55.
Not much was expected of the Sonics last season, but McMillan led them to 52 wins and they took the San Antonio Spurs to six games in the Western Conference semifinals.
McMillan chatted with Sonics guard Ray Allen during a break in play, telling him: “You’re looking buff.” He put his arm around Damien Wilkins at halftime.
The game was unimpressive, typical of the early preseason, with both teams shuffling in and out a variety of players.
The Blazers got a look at Martell Webster, the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft this year, who played at Seattle Prep High School. Webster’s dunk put the Blazers up 67-60 early in the fourth quarter.
His long jumper made it 75-67 with less than 5 minutes to go.
The Sonics narrowed it to 78-71 on rookie Alex Scales’ free throws late in the game, but the Blazers hung on to win it.
Allen finished with 11 points for the Sonics, while Scales, who played for Oregon but went undrafted in 2000, had 10.
Walton out indefinitely
A disheartened Luke Walton probably will begin the season on the injured list because of a strained left hamstring.
The third-year Los Angeles Lakers’ forward was injured late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s 101-93 victory over Golden State in the preseason opener for both teams.
Lakers spokesman John Black said following the game that Walton would be sidelined two to six weeks.
“The trainers are saying probably closer to six weeks,” Walton said before the Lakers and Warriors met again Wednesday night at the University of Hawaii. “They said it’s different for everyone.”
Garnett sits out preseason opener
Kevin Garnett sat out the Minnesota Timberwolves preseason opener against the Milwaukee Bucks with a sore right knee.
Garnett, who dealt with pain in his knee last season, was being rested as a precaution, according to head coach Dwane Casey.
Newly acquired guard Marko Jaric was also out because he sprained his right ankle in practice on Tuesday.
Bucks point guard T.J. Ford, who missed the last 1 1/2 seasons with a spinal injury, didn’t make the trip to Minnesota because of a sprained left index finger. He hurt the finger in practice and was expected to have an MRI performed this week.
Rockets waive Ward
The Houston Rockets waived guard Charlie Ward.
Ward came to the Rockets last season and played 14 games before being sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. The 11-year NBA veteran played for New York and San Antonio before coming to Houston.
Chest strain bothers James
LeBron James winced with pain at times during practice, a day after he woke up with a strained chest muscle.
James sat out the Cleveland Cavaliers’ exhibition game Tuesday night against Boston and is listed as questionable with a strained left pectoral muscle for Friday night’s home exhibition game against Philadelphia.
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