6:00 PM ET, January 15, 2006
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Mike Bibby limped to the free-throw line in the final second, knowing the game probably rested on his weary shoulders. But he also knew his career high was at stake -- and with two final free throws, Bibby got the win and the record.
Bibby and Brad Miller were the Kings' only healthy regular starters, but the point guard and his center still carried Sacramento to its 11th straight home victory over the Magic. Miller had 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, scoring nine points in the fourth and hitting a crucial 3-pointer with 2:16 to play.
The Kings didn't make a substitution in the second half, sticking with one exhausted lineup that nearly blew a big lead -- but a victory made everything better.
"When you win, you always feel a little bit less tired," Miller said. "We were the ones messing up. We were the ones leaving guys for open shots. ... I'm just glad we kept it together enough in the end."
Bibby, battling through tight defense and visibly favoring his sore back after a late-game collision, had another superb night when the Kings needed it most. Thanks to his teammates, Bibby knew he had matched his career high in the final seconds, and he called for the ball when Orlando was determined to foul.
Earlier, Bibby put Sacramento in control with 15 points in the third quarter, hitting three of his five 3-pointers while the Kings took a 14-point lead.
"He made big shot after big shot, and we needed it," coach Rick Adelman said. "With the injuries and everything else, Mike and Brad have to be the two guys that are constant for us."
Jameer Nelson scored 12 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter for the Magic, who pulled within 90-86 on Travis Diener's 3-pointer with 3:44 left. Miller beat the shot clock with his 3-pointer to put Sacramento up by eight, but the Magic eventually cut the lead to 96-94 on Diener's next 3-pointer and another by Hedo Turkoglu with 20 seconds left.
But Kevin Martin, Miller and Bibby were perfect on eight free throws in the final 19 seconds, and Nelson's six points in the frantic final moments weren't enough.
"When you think he's not in the play, he's in the play," Nelson said of Bibby. "He's always moving. Great player. Mike is a tough guy to play. I'm a young guy. I'm still learning."
Bibby surpassed his previous career high, set last season against New York. Martin matched his career high with 22 points and a career-best 10 rebounds for the Kings, who played without injured starters Peja Stojakovic, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Bonzi Wells.
Grant Hill scored 18 points in his return from a four-game absence with a groin injury for the Magic, whose personnel shortages are due to suspensions, not injuries. Hill then sat out the final minutes after getting tangled up with Martin.
"Right now, I'm just worried about getting my clothes on," Hill said, visibly grimacing in the locker room. "I'm not sure where it hurts. It just hurts."
Dwight Howard scored 18 points and just missed his career high with 19 rebounds, but Orlando dropped to 4-13 on the road with its eighth straight defeat, including all four games of its road trip.
Team officials will meet with suspended guard Steve Francis on Monday to determine his future with the club, coach Brian Hill said afterward. Orlando suspended Francis indefinitely Thursday for "conduct detrimental to the team" -- reportedly because he refused to enter a game one day earlier in Seattle.
"I'm sure we'll be able to move forward," Brian Hill said.
Stojakovic missed his second straight game for Sacramento with a protruding disc in his lower back. Abdur-Rahim missed his ninth straight with a broken jaw that's still wired shut, while Wells missed his 11th consecutive contest with a torn muscle in his groin.
Stojakovic has missed eight games with three different injuries this season, his worst statistically since 1999-00. ... The Magic haven't won at Arco Arena since Dec. 19, 1993, when Shaquille O'Neal was their leading scorer. ... Turkoglu, who played in Sacramento from 2000-03, got his usual warm ovation.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||41-90 (.456)||31-65 (.477)|
|3PM-3PA||5-10 (.500)||8-17 (.471)|
|FTM-FTA||13-20 (.650)||34-40 (.850)|
|Fast Break Points||4||8|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||25 (0/0)||17 (1/0)|