CHICO, Calif. - Xavier McDaniel was running over people and getting called for it. Olden Polynice was chipping paint off the rim with his free throws. And Quintin Dailey should have booked passage on a ferry, his traveling was so blatant.
Ugly? K.C. Jones might call it that. To his SuperSonics' credit, however, most of their awful misdeeds came in the first half of a 117-116 Seattle victory over the Sacramento Kings last night.
The Sonics finished 5-3 in the exhibition season, thanks to their pressure defense and a missed free throw with no time left by the Kings' Bobby Hansen. After Dailey hit two free throws with 6.8 seconds to play, Polynice fouled Hansen under the basket at the buzzer.
The suspense quickly ended when Hansen missed the first. For Seattle, however, it's just starting.
The Sonics will go into their season opener with injuries to Dale Ellis, Nate McMillan and Derrick McKey. Their 15 first-half
turnovers bespoke a team that needs some steadying.
``Yes, I'll say that first half was the worst we've played in the exhibition season,'' Jones said. ``We played very poorly at both ends.''
Shawn Kemp led seven Sonics in double figures with 22 points, while Dailey had 19. Polynice added 10 points and nine rebounds in perhaps the Sonics' most encouraging performance.
Bill Wennington led the Kings (3-4) with 25 points. Antoine Carr had 22.
The story of the game was pressure. Or lack of handling it by the Kings.
There also was a decent subplot as a Sonic assistant coach, Kip Motta, 32, coached against his father, Dick, 58, head coach of the Kings, for the first time.
``I've been riding him all day,'' Dick Motta said. ``He came to Sacramento and stayed with us. I haven't really thought about it that much, but I guess you could call me proud.''
The elder Motta was speaking of his son, of course, not his team. The Kings looked miserable at guard in the second half, which explains why the organization hinted it might go shopping for a point man as early as today.
After the Kings built a 24-point lead early in the third quarter, 68-44, the Sonics employed their three-guard lineup - Sedale Threatt, Gary Payton and Dailey - to seize control.
Nine turnovers later, the Sonics had crept back in it, 93-85, heading into the fourth period.
``We couldn't match up when they put three guards out there,'' Dick Motta said. ``We do need a back-up point guard. I had Rory Sparrow out their playing when he shouldn't have been.''
Seattle went on a 12-0 binge in the fourth quarter to take its first lead of the half, 97-94. Down the stretch, there were seven lead changes. Threatt's free throw with 1:17 left put the Sonics ahead to stay, 113-112.
As poorly as Seattle looked at times, Kemp spoke for many when he said, ``I'm a little tired of this. I'm ready for it to count.
``That's not how Seattle plays.''
-- Seattle's Xavier McDaniel scored 15 points in 25 minutes of action. Threatt had 16 and four assists, Dana Barros had 13 and Gary Payton 12.
-- Dick Motta on Payton: ``He's incredibly quick. I definitely see NBA stardom in him. He's a player.''