Da Glove Goes Home while Fortson Faces Off against Former Team


SEATTLE - While the Sonics' 3-point shooters garner much of the attention, a player who has not attempted a single shot from the arc may be the biggest difference-maker. With his physical play and tenacious rebounding, one-time Celtic Danny Fortson has brought toughness and energy to the Sonics' second unit. Celtics coach Doc Rivers called Fortson a "lightning rod" and thought the acquisition of the power forward represented the Sonics' best offseason move.

"I appreciate that," said Fortson, who entered last night's 98-84 loss to the the Celtics averaging 9.3 points per game, and 6.6 rebounds in 18.1 minutes off the bench. "I think they just needed the extra body to go along with their style of play. It can make [my contributions] look like more than what it is."

   After struggling to fit in during various stays in his NBA career with Boston, Golden State, and Dallas, Fortson feels he fits in with Seattle.

"[Moving around] is part of basketball, especially in this business," said Fortson, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds last night. "I'm a survivor anyway. I like to play this game. I'd play pickup games if I had to. But it's easy [to fit it] when you're around guys like these guys. They're young. Nobody on the roster is over 30. They're hungry. They've been at the bottom for a long time and they want to come up."

"The main thing is I'm playing hard. The guys are playing hard and we're believing in each other."

Comeback player?

When a player returns to a city where he played the first 12 years of his career, made 10 postseason appearances, and earned seven of his nine All-Star spots, can he really be called a visitor? Gary Payton certainly feels at home in Seattle (he scored 21 points last night), though he's glad the trips back have been limited.

"It's good that this is only my third time coming back," said Payton. "It feels strange, but this is the way it's got to be.

"I'm glad I haven't played them eight or nine or 10 times. Then, it would be getting old. But right now, it's still new. These people still love me. I still love them. It's good to come back and see them. It's going to be the same as when I first got here and played with the Lakers, going back into an arena where I accomplished a lot of things and had a lot of good times in."

With all the fond memories, Payton will not rule out a permanent return to Seattle once his contract expires after this season.

"I always have that thought," said Payton. "I started in Seattle and played there for 12 years. But I'm not going to put all my cookies in one basket. I'm not going to say it's going to happen or it's not going to happen. That's far away."

Super models

For all the teams fielding a small lineup, and that list certainly includes the Celtics, the Sonics provide hope. They have won with a relatively undersized roster in the traditionally supersized Western Conference. Forget for a moment the difference in the records of Boston and Seattle; the coaches see key similarities between the squads.

"That's a very dangerous team," said Seattle's Nate McMillan. "They can pose some matchup problems for you. Defensively, they can get after you. I think they're very similar to us."

For his part, Rivers complimented the "amazing job" being done by McMillan.

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