Sacramento wins series 4-1 (Game 4 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

Kings 94

(55-27, 21-20 away)

8:30 PM ET, April 26, 2004

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

1 2 3 4 T
SAC 21 18 31 2494
DAL 18 26 21 2792

Top Performers

Sac: D. Christie 13 Pts, 15 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Dal: D. Nowitzki 21 Pts, 14 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Blk

Nash's final attempt to tie clangs off

DALLAS (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings decided the best way to take control of their first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks was to take control of whatever they could.

They went after loose balls with abandon. They set more picks and made better passes. They told Peja Stojakovic to keep shooting no matter how often, or how badly, he missed.

The all-out effort was needed until the final buzzer. Stojakovic forced Steve Nash into missing a jumper, sealing a 94-92 victory Monday night that sends the Kings home with a 3-1 lead.

"We wanted to be aggressive in every aspect and that's what everyone did tonight," said Doug Christie, who had 13 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and a technical foul after tangling with Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki. "It was just beautiful."

With this matchup of the league's two highest-scoring teams looking more and more like an Eastern Conference slugfest, Stojakovic provided a rare burst of offense over the last five minutes of the third quarter. The Kings started it down by two and finished it up by five. They never trailed again.

A streak featuring a three-point play, a long jumper, a 3-pointer and a baseline floater isn't unexpected from Stojakovic. Yet it was a bit surprising considering he felt so out of whack the previous game that he took only one shot in the second half, then followed it by missing 10 straight in the first half of this game, including two that were nowhere near the rim.

"I knew I had to be aggressive and keep shooting the ball," said Stojakovic, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half. "They started falling and I was happy about that."

The Kings were up 93-86 with 2:11 left, but almost blew it. Chris Webber missed a free throw with 39 seconds left that could have stretched the lead to five and Mike Bibby missed a tough jumper with about 10 seconds left. Webber caught the rebound but was standing out of bounds.

With 8.4 seconds left, Nash took an inbounds pass and ran behind a screen from Nowitzki, jarring Bibby off him and forcing Stojakovic onto Nash. Stojakovic was able to contain Nash behind the foul line, forcing him to take a fading 18-footer at the buzzer that bounced off the rim.

"I told Peja that he has to keep them in front of him, don't let them beat you off the first dribble," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "Peja has ability, for a guy his size, to move his feet. When he really locks in, he does a pretty good job and it was the correct play on his part."

Mavs coach Don Nelson said he got the play he wanted, just not the results.

"We took a gamble," he said, "and they won."

Stojakovic had 11 rebounds. Bibby had 22 points, while Webber had 17 points and nine rebounds and Brad Miller contributed 10 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.

Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 21 points, but shot just 5-of-22; two of his baskets were dunks. He was 11-of-14 from the free throw line, including two with 33 seconds left that got Dallas within two.

"It was a tough time to have one of the worst games of my life," Nowitzki said.

Michael Finley, whose 7-for-15 night included 1-of-7 on 3-pointers, had 16 points and Nash had 11 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Rookies Marquis Daniels (4-for-13) and Josh Howard (1-for-9) couldn't provide the same lift they did in Game 3, the Mavericks' lone victory.

"Our rookies played like rookies tonight," Nelson said. "But they weren't alone."

Dallas abandoned its jump-shot approach and was aggressive in going to the basket, but had no touch. Many drives resulted in free throws, but the Mavs couldn't make those either. The league's most accurate foul shooters missed 10 of their first 20 and finished with 13 misses after missing 14 over the first three games.

"We missed 13 and we lost by two," Finley said. "When you struggle offensively, you need to hit your free throws."

Although the Kings didn't have to win a road game to win this series, they have to feel good about pulling one out, especially since they won't have homecourt advantage in any other round this postseason. They had lost their last four road games, counting Game 3, and 10 of the last 12.

Losing a home game is even more damaging to Dallas, which was an NBA-best 36-5 at home this season and 16-25 on the road. To advance now, the Mavs will have to win the next three games, two in Sacramento.

"Murphy's Law -- we're due," Nash said.

Game notes

Dallas had its biggest crowd of the season, 20,677. ... Frustrated by how the first quarter was called by official Dan Crawford and crew, Mavs owner Mark Cuban screamed to the scorer's table, "What did I tell about Crawford? Terrible." Maybe it worked -- the Kings didn't have a free throw in the second quarter. ... Monday was the 20th anniversary of "Moody Madness," the most memorable game in Mavericks history. It was a one-point overtime victory against Seattle in the fifth and deciding game of Dallas' first-ever playoff series, and it was played at Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 94 92
FGM-FGA 36-91 (.396) 34-98 (.347)
3PM-3PA 3-14 (.214) 4-21 (.190)
FTM-FTA 19-27 (.704) 20-33 (.606)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 24-68 23-55
Assists 20 19
Turnovers 18 8
Steals 6 7
Blocks 6 4
Fast Break Points 3 4
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 30 (1/0) 26 (2/0)

Top Performers

Doug Christie Christie
Points: 13
Reb: 15
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 1
Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
Points: 21
Reb: 14
Ast: 2
Stl: 0
Blk: 2