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Originally published Monday, March 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Notebook: Plenty of coaches on '88-89 team

Who would have thought that three NBA coaches would emerge from the Sonics' 1988-89 team? John Lucas, a reserve on the squad, which finished...

Seattle Times staff reporter

LOS ANGELES — Who would have thought that three NBA coaches would emerge from the Sonics' 1988-89 team?

John Lucas, a reserve on the squad, which finished 47-35, coached in San Antonio; Nate McMillan, a starter during the season, leads the Sonics; and Avery Johnson, a former Sonics reserve, was named coach in Dallas after Don Nelson resigned on Saturday.

"We had a good group," McMillan said. "It was really close. ... It doesn't surprise me that (Johnson) would be a head coach."

On several occasions this season, Johnson assumed control in Dallas while Nelson was away because of various medical conditions or tending to his ill wife.

At 43-22, Dallas trails Seattle for the third-best record in the Western Conference.

"I think he'll do a lot of things that coach Nelson did offensively, but I think there will be more emphasis on the defensive end of the floor," McMillan said of Johnson. "I think he will try to start (focusing on defense) as opposed to (saying) that's not our strong point. He'll really push with those guys to be a better defensive team, but I think offensively, they'll stay the same."

Yesterday's game at a glance

Player of the game: Ronald Murray came off the bench and poured in a season-high 25 points on 8-for-17 shooting. He also had five rebounds.

Key statistic: The Sonics had three reserves — Antonio Daniels, Vitaly Potapenko and Murray — in double-figure scoring for the first time since Feb. 1.

Next: vs. Milwaukee, 7 p.m. tomorrow at KeyArena.

Dallas is third in the NBA in scoring, averaging 102.3 points, and are 17th in points allowed, at 97.9.

Murray displays his versatility

Last season, the Sonics asked Ronald Murray to replace injured Ray Allen in the starting lineup and duplicate Allen's point production. Now they're asking Murray to fill in for reserve Vladimir Radmanovic, who is likely out for the season with a stress fracture in his right fibula.

"They don't need to me to score not like before, but my focus is to go out there and get a couple of rebounds and defend," said Murray, who grabbed five rebounds last night.

Murray figures prominently in the three-guard lineup McMillan plans to use while Radmanovic is on the mend. The lineup forces 6-foot-10 Rashard Lewis to play power forward.

"We need shooters on the floor to run most of our sets," McMillan said.


• Because of a rash of injuries and a schedule that has them playing 10 games in a 17-day span, the Sonics have just one full practice the rest of the regular season.

"I'm looking at my next practice, where we actually run up and down the floor, is April 7," McMillan said. "We just can't (practice) anymore."

• Reserve F Damien Wilkins made his first appearance since Dec. 4 when he entered last night's game in the second quarter. He has played in 12 games this season. He had two points in 15 minutes.

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