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Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Kings stampede Mavs, 124-113

Sacramento starts fast, doesn’t look back in Game 1 victory

May 7, 2003

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— Just six minutes into the Western Conference semifinals, the Sacramento Kings already were in high gear.

Using baskets from all five starters to start an early 15-2 run, the Kings turned Game 1 of their second-round series against Dallas into a rout. They led by 20 points early in the third quarter, then cruised to a 124-113 victory Tuesday night.

"We knew exactly what we needed to do," said Kings center Vlade Divac, who had 14 points in 15 minutes. "It was beautiful."

Playing for the first time since eliminating Utah in five games April 30, the Kings quickly proved they weren't rusty.

Chris Webber drove for an easy layup on the first possession and had 13 of his 24 points before the first quarter was over. The highlight was when he faked his way past Shawn Bradley at the foul line and went in for an uncontested dunk that put Sacramento up 13.

"Our guys were really ready," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "We really had a flow going. It makes it hard to guard us when it goes that way."

Dallas got within six points late in the second quarter, finally generating the electricity expected from two of the league's three highest-scoring teams. But it didn't last.

The Kings were up 12 at halftime and made it 74-54 with 8:22 left in third on a dunk by Divac, drawing boos from a franchise-record crowd of 20,525. Many of them left early in the fourth quarter, already looking ahead to Game 2 Thursday night.

"We got embarrassed," said Mavericks guard Steve Nash, who had 20 points and seven assists. "We can't play the way we played tonight and expect to win any game in this series."

Coach Don Nelson tried a variety of different lineups in hopes of slowing the Kings, all to no avail. Sacramento's lead peaked at 28, with the final margin being the closest Dallas came in the second half.

"We had a good game plan, but they just totally picked us apart," Nelson said. "The bottom line is we have to play better and they have to play worse."

Sacramento made 55 percent of its shots, going 9-for-21 on three-pointers -- even though Mike Bibby, who usually had huge games against the Mavs, scored only seven.

Peja Stojakovic had 26 points and nine rebounds and Bobby Jackson, the NBA's top sixth man, scored 23.

Doug Christie had 13 points and Keon Clark added 11 as the Kings beat Dallas for the eighth time in the last 10 meetings. That run began in last year's playoffs, when Sacramento won in five games, also in the second round.

But the last three meetings were decided by a total of nine points, with the last two going overtime. And the Mavs won the last one.

"That loss was sitting inside of us," said Webber, who had nine assists and six rebounds. "We wanted to come out focused."

Dallas was only two days removed from a seven-game series against Portland that players called physically and mentally draining.

Yet as good the Kings were early, the Mavs weren't much worse. They did make 53 percent of their shots in the first quarter. They just couldn't match Sacramento's energy and crispness.

Michael Finley and Nick Van Exel each scored 20 points for Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki, coming off 31 points Sunday, had 18 points and 11 rebounds.

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