7:00 PM ET, February 20, 2003
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings' teamwork on offense draws all the attention. Recently, their teamwork on defense has been even better.
Showing all the cohesiveness Boston lacked, Sacramento methodically built a huge lead with patient passing and steady defense against the Celtics' array of outside shooters. Boston, easily leading the league in 3-point attempts, took 31 3-pointers -- a Kings franchise record for an opponent -- but shot less than 35 percent.
Led by Christie and Clark, Sacramento's defense was a big reason for the Celtics' struggles. The Kings have held four of their last five opponents under 38 percent shooting, winning all four games.
"I don't know why we don't play like that all the time, because the end result is beautiful, said Clark, who helped hold Antoine Walker to 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting. "Everybody had an assignment, got to his spot and made things difficult for Boston. If they're missing, we should get some credit for it.''
Vlade Divac had 16 points as the Kings improved to 22-5 at home with a blowout win over the Celtics, whose most successful West Coast road trip in 12 years ended with a resounding thud.
Paul Pierce had 22 points and 12 rebounds for Boston, which had won four of the first five games on the trip. But the Celtics were put away early by the Kings, whose five starters and reserve Hedo Turkoglu all scored in double figures.
"You have to keep it close against them, and we didn't do that,'' Pierce said. "They executed well and shot well. We would have liked to get this one, but we're pretty happy with this road trip.''
Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic scored 12 points apiece for the Kings, who never trailed. The Pacific Division leaders have won seven straight over Boston at Arco Arena, and they were never threatened by the Celtics' inaccurate shooting.
The Celtics made only eight 3-pointers -- just three in the second half. After a long trip, Boston showed an indelible sign of a tired team: shots consistently clanging off the front of the rim.
"I thought we had great looks at the basket in the first half and didn't knock those shots down,'' Boston coach Jim O'Brien said. "We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, and the game got away from us when we sagged on defense.''
Sacramento took control with a 21-8 run spanning halftime. The Kings have won five straight against the Celtics, who hadn't won four games on a West Coast trip since the 1990-91 season.
The Celtics had little ball movement and poor outside shooting, and their defense was consistently shredded by the Kings' patient passing.
Sacramento also continued to thrive without big men Chris Webber and Scot Pollard. Two days after Divac played 39 minutes against the Bucks, Clark was outstanding while playing most of the minutes at center against the Celtics' smaller lineup. Divac played just 22 minutes.
"We felt we really had an advantage down low,'' Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "If we spaced the floor, we thought we'd have an advantage down there. We've got more size than they do right now, and that triggered everything else in our offense.''
Webber missed his 10th straight game with a sprained ankle, but the Kings' leading scorer might be ready to return for Sunday's home game against the Knicks, depending on his progress the next two days.
Before the game, Boston acquired Mark Blount and Mark Bryant from Denver for backup point guard Shammond Williams. The Celtics dressed 10 players, with Tony Delk backing up J.R. Bremer at point guard as usual.
Boston plays seven of its next nine games at home. ... During a timeout in the second quarter, Celtics assistant coach Dick Harter ordered a television sound technician to get a boom microphone out of Boston's huddle. ... Julian Peterson, the San Francisco 49ers' Pro Bowl linebacker, attended the game.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||29-83 (.349)||41-79 (.519)|
|3PM-3PA||8-31 (.258)||8-19 (.421)|
|FTM-FTA||17-22 (.773)||15-17 (.882)|
|Fast Break Points||3||4|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||14 (1/1)||19 (1/0)|