After their 3-1 first-round series victory over Tim Hardaway and the Golden State Warriors, the Seattle SuperSonics are now awaiting the winner of the Utah-Los Angeles Clippers series.
They’re anticipating meeting Utah in the Western Conference semifinals because the Jazz hold a 2-1 lead over the Clippers.
Since the Sonics beat Utah three out of four times during the regular season, they think they would have a good chance against the Jazz.
“Utah would be the team we want,” Nate McMillan of the Sonics said. “But I’m superstitious. I think it’ll be more difficult to beat them again.”
It was difficult beating the Warriors in Game 4 at the Seattle Coliseum Thursday night but, thanks to Ricky Pierce and Gary Payton in the final 40 seconds, they did it.
Pierce scored a basket and hit two free throws while Payton connected on three free throws as Seattle posted a 119-116 victory.
Pierce led the Sonics with 27 points, including a dozen in the final quarter. Shawn Kemp, Seattle’s emerging 22-year-old star, scored 21 points and pulled down 20 rebounds.
“We achieved something, but we can’t stop now,” Kemp said. “We have to keep going out and playing hard.”
Because of the rioting in Los Angeles, Game 4 of the Utah-Clippers series was postponed Thursday night. It was rescheduled for Sunday in Anaheim.
So Sonic Coach George Karl gave his players Friday off.
“We played very well against Golden State,” Karl said. “We did it.”
The 6-foot-10 Kemp, playing a lot of minutes at center, averaged 22 points and 16.3 rebounds against the Warriors. Pierce averaged 21 points, Eddie Johnson 19, Derrick McKey 18 and Payton 10.8.
In beating the Warriors, the Sonics sidelined a team that won 55 regular-season games and finished second in the Pacific Division. Golden State was terribly disappointed in the series loss because it felt it had a good chance of reaching the NBA finals.
“I personally will take full responsibility for this,” Golden State coach Don Nelson said. “I feel very bad about it.”
Hardaway had a horrible shooting night. The All-Star guard scored 27 points and tied a playoff record with eight steals, but he missed 21 of 29 shots from the field and seven of 15 free throws.
“It’s disappointing because we had such high expectations,” Hardaway said. “We wanted to go further. But Seattle did a great job.”
Chris Mullin, the Warriors’ All-Star forward, scored just 11 points and played only six minutes in the final quarter because of a bad back.
“I feel like I let my teammates down,” Mullin said.