"We won," he said. "We won."
In an NBA season turning oddly dramatic, it was the first time in 16 games on the road that the embattled coach could make such a proclamation.
But the Sonics' hard-fought 103-102 victory over the Indiana Pacers before a sparse crowd of 12,923 brought an end to the teams franchise-record road losing streak and provided smiles in a locker room that had become tense and frustrated.
"Losing gets old for everybody," Luke Ridnour said. "To get a win feels good, and hopefully it gets that monkey off our backs for a while and we start playing."
Not that the victory came easily, or without trepidation.
In fact, it wasn't until the final buzzer sounded that Hill was able to raise his arms in the air in celebration, the players were able to sigh and assistant coach Jack Sikma slapped colleague Ralph Lewis on the back.
With Seattle ahead by the final score, the Pacers had 23 seconds to win the game. Point guard Jamaal Tinsley shot a 7-foot floater with 4.9 seconds left. It missed.
But the Sonics were able to grab few key rebounds all night, the Pacers getting 26 offensive rebounds and out-rebounding Seattle overall, 53-35.
In keeping with that theme, the Sonics (18-31) struggled mightily to close out the game. Jeff Foster tipped Tinsleys miss and it hung on the front of the rim before falling off.
Danny Granger grabbed the rebound and had a layup, but it slipped from his hands and was thrown to the far side of the basket. Tinsley collected the ball with less than a second remaining, stepped back and hoisted up an 8-footer that was off the mark.
The streak was over.
"They got enough looks at it, and we really got lucky," Nick Collison said. "But we will take it. We have had our share of bad luck this season, too. So we will definitely take it."
"The last three seconds was like 20 seconds," Earl Watson added. "A lot happened in that timeframe. At that point, I was like this streak has to end. If that ball goes in, I am going to kick this ball as high as I can kick it into the rafters and just get suspended."
Given the circumstances, had the Sonics lost this game, it may have been the worst in the long string of losses.
Not only were the Pacers missing All-Star center Jermaine O'Neal, who sat out with a sore knee, but earlier in the day it was reported that three Pacers players were involved in a bar fight after the parade honoring the Colts Super Bowl victory.
The Pacers are a team already saddled with the aftermath of the November 2004 brawl with the Detroit Pistons, as well as the shooting of a gun at a strip club by Stephen Jackson, who was recently traded to the Golden State Warriors in an eight-player deal.
Now, it must handle the accusations that Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Keith McLeod beat up a bartender in the early morning hours Tuesday.
Though the incident was a distraction, the Pacers (26-23), losers of two straight, still had every opportunity to win this game, holding a 99-92 lead with 3:37 to go on the strength of their rebounding, their 3-point shooting (13-of-28) against a Seattle defense that kept leaving men open, and a spate of Sonics' turnovers (20).
Earlier in the day, Watson was removed from the starting lineup, in part because Hill wanted to benefit from the energy Watson provides as a reserve.
After Ray Allen (33 points, nine assists) made consecutive shots to bring the score to 99-96, and Tinsley hit a free throw for 100-96, the Sonics got unexpected contributions from both players, taking the pressure off Allen for a night.