Sonics give Hill win in first game as Seattle coach

CHICAGO (AP) -- Their star player was in the locker room having
his eye examined, and the opponent was rallying.

Just when it seemed things were coming apart, the Seattle
SuperSonics hung on for a 101-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls to
make Bob Hill's debut as head coach a success.

Rashard Lewis scored 21 points, Luke Ridnour hit two free throws
with three seconds and a Seattle team that has struggled through a
disappointing season had reason to smile after nearly blowing a
14-point lead.

That included Ray Allen, who left early in the fourth quarter
after taking an elbow to the right eye.

"I think we established a great rhythm offensively in the first
two quarters of the game, so it gave everybody the opportunity to
have some comfort," said Allen, wearing dark protective glasses.
"Rashard, we were getting the ball to him. The young guys played

Ben Gordon hit a 3-pointer with 33.4 seconds left to pull the
Bulls to within 99-97. After a missed jumper by Ridnour, Rashard
Lewis and Othella Harrington got tied up underneath, resulting in a
jump ball with 12.9 seconds left. Gordon was unable to control the
ball as it landed out of bounds along the baseline, near the Bulls'
bench, giving Seattle possession.

Ridnour (15 points) then hit the free throws, sending the Bulls
(12-19) to their eighth straight loss.

Lewis hit 6-of-14 shots and 8-of-11 free throws as the Sonics
(14-17) won for the third time in eight games.

Allen scored 20 points, 17 in the first half, but left the game
after being elbowed by Chicago's Kirk Hinrich. He is to be examined
by an opthalmologist on Thursday.

Allen rubbed his eye after he went down but his vision didn't
clear. And it remained blurry as he ran down the court.

During a timeout just under two minutes into the fourth, Allen
told trainer Mike Shimensky "I'm good. Let me go back out." Less
than a minute later, Allen left the game.

"Everything's blurry on the right side," Allen said. "The
light getting in it aggravates it."

He paused, then joked: "They could have had some cooler

Vladimir Radmanovic scored 14 points -- 11 in the second half --
in his first start this season. But he's more comfortable now. He
figures to see more time with Hill deciding the rotation.

Gordon led the Bulls with 21 points, Darius Songaila scored 20
and Hinrich added 16.

A day after firing Bob Weiss and promoting Hill from assistant
coach, the Sonics showed some spark through the first 2 1-2
quarters. Then, they hung on.

The Sonics saw a 14-point third-quarter lead dwindle in the

After a jumper by Chicago's Darius Songaila made it 89-86 with
just under four minutes left, Seattle's Ronald Murray responded
with two baskets to make it a seven-point game. But the Bulls made
their run, only to come up short again.

"I was excited," said Hill, an NBA head coach for the fourth
time. "I felt fine. I was excited. (Referee) Dick Bavetta and I
were running our mouths and teasing one another. I thought it was

For Bulls coach Scott Skiles, Wednesday's game wasn't so

He has juggled the lineup, but hasn't found the right mix.

When asked if he wants general manager John Paxson to make a
move, Skiles responded: "If I said that, it implies John's not
trying to get deals. I assume you're asking if there are any deals
that he is considering, and that would be no. That doesn't mean
they're not trying to get a deal done. They are not easy to do in
this league."

A Seattle team that had high expectations after winning 52 games
and the Northwest Division last season was 13-17 and had lost five
of seven entering Wednesday's game, leading to the change.

Hill wasted no time shaking up the rotation.

That meant starting Radmanovic and inserting seldom-used center
Robert Swift in the first quarter.

Unhappy in a limited role under Weiss, Radmanovic made an
immediate impact with a 3-pointer 19 seconds into the game. Hill
pumped his fist as the ball fell through the net.

Game notes
The Sonics waived G Mateen Cleaves on Wednesday. The
sixth-year veteran averaged 3.4 points and 1.7 assists in 19
appearances this season. ... Bulls C Tyson Chandler is expected to
miss about a week with a sprained right ankle, coach Scott Skiles
said before Wednesday's game. Chandler, averaging 4.9 points and
7.9 rebounds, injured his ankle when he stepped on Milwaukee Bucks
guard Mo Williams' foot during the third quarter Monday. Michael
Sweetney started at center for the Bulls. ... Sonics F Danny
Fortson sat out with a sore left knee.