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Originally published Tuesday, April 12, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Notebook: Karl meant no disrespect

Two days after George Karl coached briefly with a baby in one hand and a cup of water in the other, the Denver Nuggets' coach didn't understand...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Two days after George Karl coached briefly with a baby in one hand and a cup of water in the other, the Denver Nuggets' coach didn't understand what all the postgame fuss was about.

Sonics guard Ray Allen found the gesture disrespectful.

It happened Saturday during the Sonics' loss in Denver. The Nuggets' mascot handed the baby to an official, who handed it to Karl, who played along — coaching and baby-sitting simultaneously.

"What does (Allen) want me to do?" Karl said. "Throw the baby in the stands?"

Allen feuded publicly with Karl when they both were in Milwaukee, but yesterday Allen said he did not watch the tape that led "SportsCenter" that night and added that, "It wasn't like I was going to be rude or not talk to him. If I see him, I'll talk to him about it."

Sonics coach Nate McMillan said he understood both sides. He understood what Allen felt, especially because the incident happened during a Sonics loss.

Last night's game at a glance

Player of the game: Tracy McGrady scored 38 points on 14-of-25 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished four assists.

Play of the game: Damien Wilkins had a hand in McGrady's face when McGrady leaned back and buried a fade-away jumper to give the Rockets a 75-70 lead.

Turning point: The McGrady show started near the middle of the third quarter and didn't end until he sat down with 22.4 seconds left in the period.

"It was something that I've never seen happen on the floor," McMillan said. "But I also know George. He can be one of those political guys at times and use that moment for a certain reason."

Said Karl: "I have nothing but great respect for Ray, as a player and off the court. Our time together has been well-documented. We had some good times and some not-so-good times. It was never personal. But this, really, come on. Saying that I don't respect this game. I take that seriously because I do respect this game."

Injury update

Forward Rashard Lewis and guard Antonio Daniels ran before the Sonics' game last night against the Houston Rockets. McMillan expects both to run more tomorrow, and the Sonics are holding out hope that both are ready for tomorrow's game against the Dallas Mavericks.

Both did not play yesterday, along with forward Danny Fortson and forward Vladimir Radmanovic, who won't play the rest of the regular season. McMillan said he had never seen an injury situation as bad as this one this late in the season.

McMillan said Lewis will have to play through the pain in his bruised right foot.

McMillan likes Yao

Count McMillan among the growing legion of Yao Ming fans.

"Watching him against us, he has shown a lot of improvement," McMillan said. "He really knows angles, how to get deep post position; he's more physical than he was. But now, with his feel for the game, he's a dominant player. You have to put him in the category of a Shaquille (O'Neal), a Tim (Duncan), those players that I don't think there's a way of stopping."

Times staff reporters Percy Allen and Jayda Evans contributed to this report.

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