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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Kemp Has Jam Session All-Star Returns To Form As Sonics Roll

By Bob Condotta Tacoma News Tribune

Nobody celebrates dunks quite like Shawn Kemp, whether it’s the head feint to the crowd or retouching the backboard on the way back down.

Those were moves everybody had forgotten about the last two months, however, because Kemp hadn’t even been dunking much during his controversy-filled slump.

But the swagger was back Tuesday night as the Seattle SuperSonics hammered the San Antonio Spurs 108-88. The Sonics were led by Kemp’s 22 points and 12 rebounds, including two highlight-reel dunks. The most crowd-pleasing one was a one-handed jam of a Gary Payton lob in the third quarter.

With the victory, the Sonics (55-25) moved a half-game in front of the idle Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific Division, and stayed even with Houston in the race for playoff positioning.

“It’s been a long time,” Kemp said of the dunks. “It felt good. It gets you motivated a little bit.”

Of course, the Sonics saw Kemp have what they hoped was a breakout game four days earlier against the same injury-depleted San Antonio team that fell to 20-60 on Tuesday with the loss in front of a KeyArena crowd of 17,072.

But the Sonics think this one might carry over a while, in part because Kemp’s performance was aided by a change in the starting lineup. Terry Cummings started at center in place of Jim McIlvaine, a change Sonics coach George Karl said could be permanent.

Karl said starting Cummings creates more space on the offensive end for Kemp since teams won’t as easily drop off Cummings to double Kemp.

“A lot of teams double team me with big guys right away and I can’t always get the ball to Mac every time,” Kemp said. “When you have a guy out there who can stick the 14-footer, it can make a difference.”

That’s exactly what happened early as Cummings hit all four shots he took in the first quarter as the Sonics busted out to a 28-19 lead.

“I can make an open jump shot or drive the middle and dish it off,” Cummings said. “And by that time, Shawn’s offense will be in full swing.”

Karl also said the move could help McIlvaine, saying the pairing of McIlvaine and Sam Perkins has worked well this year, and that those two will often play together now. It was the first time all year that McIlvaine hadn’t started.

Karl said he had thought about the move for about three weeks, before finally relenting. Part of the delay might have been to save Cummings’ legs.

“I can’t run up and down for 82 games, but I can do it now,” Cummings said.

Also, the team was desperate for anything after losing by 40 Sunday at Houston, a loss that had many throughout the country already predicting an early playoff exit for the Sonics.

“We need to start somewhere, and tonight was a good start,” Cummings said.

Kemp was scoreless in the first quarter, but then dominated in the second quarter, scoring 11 points during a span of 7:40 as the Sonics blew the game open.

Notes

Detlef Schrempf missed his third straight game with a groin injury suffered when he took a charge against Mitch Richmond in Sacramento against the Kings. … Craig Ehlo was put on the injured list with a sore knee. … Nate McMillan, bothered by a sore knee, did not play.

SuperSonics 108, Spurs 88

FG FT Reb SAN ANTONIO Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts Herrera 31 6-8 2-2 1-7 1 3 14 Smith 7 0-2 1-2 0-1 0 0 1 Anderson 30 5-6 2-4 2-6 3 4 12 Del Negro 39 3-11 2-2 0-1 4 1 8 Johnson 34 8-10 0-0 0-3 5 1 17 Perdue 34 5-9 3-5 2-8 1 3 13 Maxwell 25 4-13 0-0 1-2 0 3 10 Alexander 28 3-9 1-2 0-0 10 4 9 Feick 12 2-4 0-0 0-2 0 4 4 Totals 240 36-72 11-17 6-30 24 23 88 Percentages: FG .500, FT .647.

3-Point Goals: 5-21, .238 (Alexander 2-7, Maxwell 2-8, Johnson 1-2, Feick 0-1, Del Negro 0-3).

Team Rebounds: 7.

Blocked shots: 4 (Perdue 2, Herrera, Johnson).

Turnovers: 20 (Del Negro 3, Johnson 3, Alexander 3, Herrera 2, Smith 2, Perdue 2, Maxwell, team 4).

Steals: 9 (Johnson 4, Del Negro 2, Herrera, Smith, Alexander).

Technical fouls: None.

Illegal defense: None.

FG FT Reb SEATTLE Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts Kemp 30 6-10 10-12 5-12 0 1 22 Stewart 22 2-6 0-0 3-4 1 1 5 Cummings 21 5-6 2-3 1-4 2 2 12 Hawkins 30 3-7 1-2 0-5 2 1 8 Payton 33 9-18 5-6 1-5 9 2 24 Wingate 30 2-5 2-2 0-2 3 3 7 Perkins 20 2-3 2-2 1-2 1 1 7 McIlvaine 20 2-4 0-0 0-4 0 6 4 Graham 25 5-11 3-4 0-1 3 2 13 Snow 9 3-5 0-0 0-1 3 0 6 Totals 240 39-75 25-31 11-40 24 19 108 Percentages: FG .520, FT .806.

3-Point Goals: 5-20, .250 (Stewart 1-1, Perkins 1-2, Wingate 1-3, Hawkins 1-3, Payton 1-5, McIlvaine 0-1, Snow 0-1, Graham 0-4).

Team Rebounds: 7.

Blocked shots: 5 (McIlvaine 2, Kemp, Stewart, Perkins).

Turnovers: 15 (Kemp 3, Cummings 2, Hawkins 2, Payton 2, Wingate 2, Stewart, Perkins, Graham, Snow).

Steals: 11 (Hawkins 2, Payton 2, Wingate 2, Graham 2, Snow, Cummings, Kemp).

Technical fouls: None.

Illegal defense: 1.

San Antonio 19 18 27 24 - 88

Seattle 28 29 30 21 - 108

A-17,072 (17,072). T-2:00.

Wordcount: 916
Tags: basketball

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