Sacramento wins series 4-1 (Game 1 of 5)

Sacramento wins series 4-1

Game 1: Sunday, April 18th
Game 2: Tuesday, April 20th
Game 3: Saturday, April 24th
Game 4: Monday, April 26th
Game 5: Thursday, April 29th

Mavericks 105


Kings 116

(55-27, 34-7 home)

    12:30 PM ET, April 18, 2004

    Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    DAL 31 34 20 20105
    SAC 34 29 23 30116

    Top Performers

    Dal: D. Nowitzki 32 Pts, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 5 Blk

    Sac: C. Webber 26 Pts, 12 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    19-7 fourth-quarter run jump-starts Kings

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- 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 the Dallas Mavericks.

    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 on 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 3-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.

    "They don't play much better than this," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "This is one of their best games of the season, or at least since Webber has been back."

    Game 2 is Tuesday night in Sacramento, with Game 3 on Saturday in Dallas.

    The Kings have only themselves to blame for what seems to be the NBA's toughest first-round matchup. They lost eight of their final 12 games in the regular season, blowing the Pacific Division title and dropping into the conference's fourth seed with a loss to Golden State in the season finale.

    The game wasn't decided until the fourth quarter, when Sacramento opened with a 19-7 run keyed by the defense of Doug Christie and Webber, who endangered his gimpy knees and ankles by diving on the floor to retrieve a loose ball.

    Stojakovic and Anthony Peeler hit 3-pointers, and the Kings scored 11 points off four consecutive Dallas turnovers. The Mavericks responded poorly to the defensive pressure encouraged by Kings coach Rick Adelman, who jumped and gestured on the sidelines with unusual fervor.

    "I've always said this team was a smart team," Adelman said. "I thought they got better at focusing on what we need to accomplish as the game went on. All we've been thinking about for three weeks is that you have to have a consistent effort. If we aren't outworking them every minute, they're going to hurt you."

    Christie had 21 points -- tying his career playoff high -- along with eight rebounds and a playoff career-best 11 assists, while Mike Bibby scored 13 of his 14 points in the second half.

    Antawn Jamison scored 18 points in his first career playoff game, while starting Dallas guards Marquis Daniels and Steve Nash managed just 13 points apiece on 11-for-29 shooting. Michael Finley and Antoine Walker also struggled, shooting 7-for-24.

    "We've got to forget this game as soon as possible," Nowitzki said. "They were on fire from all angles. We had to grind out every basket, and they had too many easy ones."

    The Mavericks entered their third straight playoff meeting with the Kings on a roll, winning eight of 10 with a small-ball lineup featuring the 6-foot-9 Walker at center. They used the same lineup in their playoff opener, producing tremendous matchup problems for the more traditional Kings until the fourth, when Sacramento also went small.

    Game notes

    All-Star Brad Miller scored just two points in 20 minutes, struggling to get in the flow of the Kings' offense. ... Daniels had four steals and six turnovers. ... Kings G Bobby Jackson was not in uniform because of an abdominal injury that sidelined him for 28 of the final 29 regular-season games. The team has no idea when he'll feel good enough to return. ... Shortly after halftime, Kings fan Tony Firpo won a truck by making a half-court shot.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 105 116
    FGM-FGA 41-91 (.451) 44-83 (.530)
    3PM-3PA 8-21 (.381) 11-21 (.524)
    FTM-FTA 15-19 (.789) 17-24 (.708)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-44 9-41
    Assists 25 28
    Turnovers 13 11
    Steals 9 10
    Blocks 11 5
    Fast Break Points 3 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (1/0) 21 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 32
    Reb: 13
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 5
    Chris Webber Webber
    Points: 26
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2