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Stojakovic, Webber power Kings to easy win

5/7/2003

DALLAS (AP) -- Just six minutes into the Western Conference
semifinals, the Sacramento Kings were already 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 the
Dallas Mavericks 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
last Wednesday, 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 on 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
3-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 on Sunday, had 18
points and 11 rebounds.

The only time the Mavs made things interesting was late in the
second quarter, when a 10-2 run got them within 52-46. Then they
wasted three offensive rebounds on one possession, the Kings turned
it into an uncontested layup and they were back in control.

Stojakovic opened the third quarter with a jumper, then a dunk
off a steal and all that was in doubt was the final score. The
Kings knew they'd snatched back the home-court advantage Dallas
earned by winning one more regular-season game.

"In no way are we fooled by winning one game,'' Webber said.
"We'll never relax. We're just glad to win here and hopefully
we'll steal another one.''

The Mavericks knew how to absorb the lopsided loss because
they've already had several in the postseason. Portland beat Dallas
by 22 and 19 in the first round, when the Trail Blazers overcame a
3-0 deficit to force a seventh game.

Game notes
Cowbells were all the rage in last year's series, and
probably will be again when the series returns to Arco Arena.
Although a few clanged in the American Airlines Center, they were
drowned by Thunderstix. ... The Kings' 33 first-quarter points were
their third-most in a quarter this postseason. Their 36 in the
third tied their most. ... Eduardo Najera got his second straight
playoff start. He started 12 times in the regular season.