SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- While the Suns and the Kings wrapped
up their seasons, Bobby Jackson was just getting started on a
comeback he hopes will last all spring.
Jackson had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists in his
first game in four months, and Sacramento clinched its fifth
consecutive 50-win season with a 132-107 victory over Phoenix on
A mostly meaningless game was a landmark occasion for Jackson,
the sparkplug guard who hasn't been able to shake constant injury
troubles in recent years. Activated from the injured list before
the game, he made his first appearance since Dec. 21, when he was
sidelined with torn ligaments in his left wrist.
And from the first time he drove the lane and crashed to the
floor in his inimitably reckless style, Jackson was back -- and the
Kings had reason to hope their tumultuous season will improve in
the playoffs. Jackson, a longtime fan favorite, got several raucous
ovations from a crowd with the same dreams.
"I couldn't believe how loud it was tonight," Jackson said.
"It gave me butterflies. It gave me chills. This is what I thrive
off. I felt like Superman, the way they were cheering me."
Despite a midseason roster overhaul and the Kings' usual litany
of injuries, they finished 50-32 in their seventh straight playoff
season under coach Rick Adelman -- the longest stretch of sustained
winning in the history of one of the NBA's original franchises.
"This was a hard 50," Adelman said. "A lot of things went on.
A lot of things could have gone the other way, and this team didn't
let it happen. I think 50 wins means something, even to the guys
who haven't been here."
Amare Stoudemire had 30 points and 11 rebounds while curiously
playing 31 minutes in a meaningless game for the Suns, who already
clinched the NBA's best record. Joe Johnson scored 19 points and
Quentin Richardson added 17 -- including five 3-pointers -- as
Phoenix finished its remarkable season tied with the 1992-93 team
for the best record in franchise history (62-20).
"I played it like a normal game," said Stoudemire, who threw
down his usual handful of vicious dunks. "I try to approach every
game with the same intensity. I wanted to win. I wanted to be a
part of history, but we tied it, so it feels good."
The Suns' 33-game improvement on last season's record is the
third-biggest turnaround in league history.
Though several regulars rested or played reduced minutes, the
NBA's two highest-scoring teams still lived up to their
reputations. Sacramento had its most prolific game of the season
with a season-high 51 field goals and 12 3-pointers, including
three each by Jackson and Eddie House.
Both clubs already were locked into playoff spots. The Suns, who
have home-court advantage throughout the postseason, will host
Memphis on Sunday, while the sixth-seeded Kings visit Seattle on
While Jackson used the game to get in shape for the playoffs,
star point guards Mike Bibby of Sacramento and Steve Nash of
Phoenix both sat out with minor injuries to rest up for the
The Kings also played without Peja Stojakovic, who spent a
one-game stint on the injured list with a strained groin. Brian
Skinner, the Kings' starting center, left the game late in the
first quarter with a sprained right foot.
Jackson had four points, two rebounds and two assists during a
9-0 run shortly after he entered the game. In the closing seconds
of the first half, he corralled a loose ball and made a 3-pointer
with 2.2 seconds to play, drawing chants of "Bobby! Bobby!" from
He scored his 15 points in 16 minutes.
"If I can just get my legs back, I'm going to be able to do
some stuff," he said with a grin.
Adelman didn't know the extent of Skinner's injury. ...
Nash wrapped up his NBA assists crown with 11.5 per game -- the
league's highest average since John Stockton had 12.3 in 1994-95.
... Only the San Antonio Spurs ever made bigger one-season
turnarounds than the Suns. The Spurs improved by 36 games in
1997-98, and by 35 games in 1989-90.