SACRAMENTO, CALIF. After several tough practices and a few emotional speeches from their leaders, the Sacramento Kings opened the playoffs with a rush of energy -- enough to outrun and outscore Dallas.
Peja Stojakovic scored 28 points, and Chris Webber added 26 points and 12 rebounds, propelling the Kings to a 116-105 victory in the opener of their first-round playoff series Sunday.
Shaking off the uncertainty of a late-season collapse that cost them the Pacific Division title, the Kings were flying from the opening tip. They made a franchise-record 11 of 21 three-pointers, including five by Stojakovic to tie Sacramento's individual playoff best.
The Kings also claim they've got a new focus on defense and inside play -- though it wasn't obvious until the fourth quarter, when not even Dirk Nowitzki could keep Dallas close in a fitting start for a series between the NBA's two highest-scoring teams.
"Playing them, I can imagine how defensively tough it is to play us," Webber said. "We don't panic as much as I think the outside panics. We just kept it together and played all four quarters the same way."
Webber addressed his teammates during practice Saturday, saying the Kings were out of time to reverse their late-season slide. In the postseason, Webber said, all slates are wiped clean -- and the Kings wrote down a big number in the opener.
Nowitzki had 32 points and 13 rebounds but battled foul trouble for the Mavericks, who came in 1-8 in playoff series openers on the road. These Mavs struggled away from Dallas all season, going 16-25, and the Kings were just as inhospitable as their cowbell-ringing fans.