|1999-2000 Seattle SuperSonics season|
|Head coach||Paul Westphal|
|General manager||Wally Walker|
|Place||Division: 4th (Pacific)|
Conference: 7th (Western)
|Playoff finish||West First Round|
(Lost to Jazz 2-3)
Fox Sports Net Northwest
The 1999-2000 NBA season was the 32nd season for the Seattle SuperSonics in the National Basketball Association. During the offseason, the Sonics acquired Horace Grant from the Orlando Magic and Brent Barry from the Chicago Bulls, while signing free agents Vernon Maxwell and second-year forward Ruben Patterson. Two years removed from the George Karl-era, the Sonics once again managed to make the playoffs finishing fourth in the Pacific Division with a 45-37 record. They took the 2nd-seeded Utah Jazz to a fifth and decisive game in the Western Conference first round before being eliminated on Utah's home floor. All-Star point guard Gary Payton earned high individual honors for the season, including All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team selections, while being selected for the 2000 NBA All-Star Game.
For the season, the Sonics added maroon alternate road uniforms which lasted until 2001.
The 1999 NBA Draft saw the Seattle SuperSonics with the 13th and 41st overall picks, the latter of which was acquired by the Denver Nuggets. With the remaining pick, the Sonics selected Duke University's Corey Maggette, regarded by some as the "best pure athlete in the entire draft."
On draft night, the Sonics traded Maggette to the Orlando Magic, along with veteran players Billy Owens, Don MacLean, and Dale Ellis. In return, the Sonics received veteran forward Horace Grant, a three-time NBA champion with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls (1991-1993). They also received two future second-round draft picks (No. 42 in 2000 and No. 42 in 2001) in the deal.
Seattle began the season by winning 9 out of their first 11 games, capping off the run with a win over the Houston Rockets on November 20, 1999. Their strong play continued through the month of January, where a 7-game win streak put them at a season-high 14 games over .500 (27-13). Though the Sonics only managed to win 18 of their final 42 games, their early-season success offset their late-season losses, keeping them safely within the playoff picture.
With two games left in the season, the Sonics overcame the Sacramento Kings in overtime to secure the 7th seed in the Western Conference. This assured that the team would avoid the 1st-seeded Los Angeles Lakers, who finished the season with an NBA-best 67-15, in the first round of the playoffs. Particularly, the seeding eliminated the possibility of unfavorable match-ups with a young Kobe Bryant and season MVP Shaquille O'Neal.
The Sonics would lose their final game of the regular season and finish with a 45-37 record.
|y-Los Angeles Lakers||67||15||.817||-||36-5||31-10||20-4|
|x-Portland Trail Blazers||59||23||.720||8||30-11||29-12||21-3|
|Golden State Warriors||19||63||.232||48||12-29||7-34||2-22|
|Los Angeles Clippers||15||67||.183||52||10-31||5-36||5-19|
|1||z-Los Angeles Lakers||67||15||.817||-|
|3||x-Portland Trail Blazers||59||23||.720||8|
|4||x-San Antonio Spurs||53||29||.646||14|
|13||Golden State Warriors||19||63||.232||48|
|14||Los Angeles Clippers||15||67||.183||52|
|1999-2000 NBA Records|
|Seattle SuperSonics 93, Utah Jazz 104|
|Scoring by quarter: 25-22, 24-30, 19-31, 25-21|
|Pts: Gary Payton 24
Rebs: Gary Payton 11
Asts: Gary Payton 6
|Pts: Karl Malone 50|
Rebs: Karl Malone 12
Asts: Jeff Hornacek 11
|Utah leads the series, 1-0|
Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round series between the Sonics and the Utah Jazz ended in a 104-93 victory for Utah. The game remained relatively close throughout the first half, with the Sonics leading 25-22 after the first quarter and Utah leading 52-49 after two. However, the third quarter proved to be costly for Seattle. Led by forward Karl Malone, the reigning MVP of the league, the Jazz would go on a 22-8 run to start the period, giving them a 74-57 lead with 4:15 left. Despite a small rally to begin the fourth quarter, the Sonics would never get closer than seven the rest of the game.
Malone went on to score a playoff career-high 50 points in the victory. At the time, it was the 26th-highest playoff point total in the history of the NBA, inserting Malone into the ranks of players like Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Michael Jordan in single-game playoff totals. All-Star guard Gary Payton scored a team-high 24 points for the Sonics, but was limited to 11-29 shooting. Seattle's Vin Baker also shot the ball poorly, making only 4 of his 18 shots while struggling to guard Malone all night.
|Seattle SuperSonics 87, Utah Jazz 101|
|Scoring by quarter: 19-25, 21-32, 19-29, 28-15|
|Pts: Gary Payton 20
Rebs: Vin Baker 7
Asts: Shammond Williams 10
|Pts: Karl Malone 23|
Rebs: Greg Ostertag 12
Asts: John Stockton 11
|Utah leads the series, 2-0|
The Sonics would not fare much better in Game 2, losing 101-87 in a blowout. The Jazz opened the game on a 10-2 run, only to see their lead cut by an identical run from the Sonics. However, the Sonics trailed the rest of the game, falling down by 17 at halftime and 27 after three quarters. After a 7-0 run to start the 4th quarter put them up 94-59, the Jazz decided to rest their starters for the rest of the period. Though Malone scored less than half his first-game total (23), teammate John Stockton compensated with 21 points and 11 assists of his own. The duo shot a combined 19-24 from the field.
Payton was much more accurate from the field in Game 2, scoring 20 points on 8-12 shooting. However, he only recorded 1 assist in 36 minutes of playing time, compared to 7 turnovers. Baker also followed up his poor Game 1 performance by scoring 10 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. However, guard Shammond Williams scored 15 points and registered 10 assists, and second-year forward Rashard Lewis, who was limited to 4 points in the series opener, scored 19 points on 5-11 shooting.
|Utah Jazz 78, Seattle SuperSonics 89|
|Scoring by quarter: 16-20, 18-20, 18-24, 26-25|
|Pts: Gary Payton 23
Rebs: Vin Baker 11
Asts: Gary Payton 10
|Pts: Karl Malone 30|
Rebs: Karl Malone 6
Asts: John Stockton 13
|Utah leads the series, 2-1|
Seattle would pick up its first victory of the series at home, taking Game 3 by a score of 89-78 and avoiding a series sweep in doing so. This ended a 6-game playoff losing streak for the Sonics, earning them their first victory since May 1998. Utah kept the game close until halftime, trailing by only 4 after the first quarter and by 6 after the second. However, Seattle would take control in the third, using a buzzer-beating jumper by Ruben Patterson to put them ahead by 12 going into the fourth. Though the Jazz eventually pulled to 66-59, the Sonics subsequently outscored them 19-5 to go ahead by 21 with 3:06 left in the game. This would seal the victory.
Seattle came out much more aggressive in Game 3, out-rebounding the Jazz 46-38 and shooting 36 free throws to Utah's 18. Payton paced his team throughout, narrowly missing a triple-double with 23 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds. Baker broke out of what many viewed as a slump to post 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Lewis made 3 of 5 3-point attempts on his way to 14 points and 10 rebounds.
For the game, Utah arguably had only one bright spot in Malone, who scored 30 points on 12-19 shooting. However, he was called for a technical foul late in the second quarter, giving him two in his last three games. Head coach Jerry Sloan and teammate Armen Gilliam also picked up technicals. Stockton could not repeat his Game 2 performance, making only one field goal (in eight attempts) the entire game. He did, however, record a game-high 13 assists.
|Utah Jazz 93, Seattle SuperSonics 104|
|Scoring by quarter: 29-26, 7-24, 35-28, 22-26|
|Pts: Gary Payton 35
Rebs: Gary Payton 10
Asts: Gary Payton 11
|Pts: Bryon Russell 26|
Rebs: Karl Malone 14
Asts: John Stockton 12
|Series tied, 2-2|
Again facing elimination, the Sonics pulled off a chippy victory in Game 4. This evened the series at 2 games apiece and forced a fifth-and-final game in Utah. Seattle played a historic second quarter in the contest, holding the Jazz to 7 points and outscoring the team by 17. The 7 points were not only a franchise-playoff-low in a quarter for Utah, but also an opponent-playoff-low in a quarter for Seattle. The Jazz failed to score from the 5:59 mark to 37 seconds left in the quarter. Utah still managed to pull within 2 in the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer by Jeff Hornacek made the score 82-80. However, Seattle promptly went on a 9-1 run to put the game away for good.
The game turned testy in the second half, during which time 7 technical fouls were called, 6 of them on Utah. Karl Malone, Jeff Hornacek, and Greg Ostertag all received technicals, as well as head coach Jerry Sloan. In the fourth quarter alone, 5 technicals were called, resulting in the ejections of both Malone and Sloan. Payton and Malone exchanged words in the waning seconds of the fourth, which subsequently led to a double-technical and Malone's ejection. However, Payton refused to comment on the details of the exchange.
Payton recorded his first career playoff triple-double in the game, registering a career-playoff-high 35 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. He added a career-playoff-high six steals to round off his impressive performance. Vin Baker scored 18 points to go with 9 rebounds, and Rashard Lewis added 20 points in the victory. Malone had 23 points and a game-high 14 rebounds in the loss, but also had 6 turnovers.
|Seattle SuperSonics 93, Utah Jazz 96|
|Scoring by quarter: 18-23, 31-30, 21-26, 23-17|
|Pts: Gary Payton 27
Rebs: Rashard Lewis 7
Asts: Gary Payton 9
|Pts: Karl Malone 27|
Rebs: Karl Malone 8
Asts: John Stockton 15
|Utah wins series, 3-2|
Despite an impressive playoff run, Seattle's season came to an end in Salt Lake City with a 93-96 loss in Game 5. Seattle trailed 79-70 going into the fourth quarter, but a 9-1 Sonics run pulled them within 1 with 8:12 left in the game. The score was 92-89 with 2:06 to play before Jeff Hornacek tipped in a Karl Malone miss to make it 94-89. After Olden Polynice missed two free throws late to keep the score at 94-91, Gary Payton scored a basket with 25 seconds left to bring the Sonics within one. John Stockton subsequently hit two free throws, giving the Sonics a final possession to tie the game. However, Chuck Person missed a three pointer at the buzzer, ending the series and, as a result, Seattle's season.
This marked the only game of the series in which a team won by less than double digits. Malone scored 27 points on 13-24 shooting, capping off a series in which he averaged 30.6 points per game. Stockton added 17 points and a series-high 15 assists in the victory. Payton had a strong game once again, recording 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists. Rashard Lewis added 20 points on 8-15 shooting. This gave Lewis a 15.4 ppg average for the series, nearly doubling his 8.2 ppg average for the regular season.