Saturday , Mar , 20 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Kings crown Indiana in battle between NBA’s best

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – Mike Bibby hit a running 18-foot jumper
with 1.2 seconds remaining to lift the Sacramento Kings over the Indiana
Pacers, 94-92, in a battle of conference leaders at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Bibby scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, helping the
Western Conference-leading Kings overcome a 17-point deficit to snap their
two-game losing streak.

Chris Webber added 24 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out late in the
fourth quarter.

Jermaine O’Neal scored 23 points with seven rebounds to lead the Pacers, who
lost for just the second time in their last 10 games. Jonathan Bender was a
boost off the bench for Indiana, scoring 15 points in 16 minutes.

The Pacers, playing without suspended guard Ron Artest, led by as many as 17
points in the first half on their way to a 58-47 advantage at halftime.

But Sacramento won the third quarter 24-14 and grabbed its first lead of the
game on the first bucket of the fourth quarter when Peja Stojakovic made it
73-72.

The teams played back-and-forth after that and that Kings led by as many three
points late when Bibby made it 87-84 with 2:30 remaining.

O’Neal followed that with a dunk and Jamaal Tinsley made a pair of free throws
to give the Pacers a brief 88-87 lead. But Doug Christie nailed a three at the
other end and the Kings would never trail again.

O’Neal made two free throws to knot the game at 92 after Webber fouled out
with 24.7 seconds remaining, but Sacramento called a timeout before calling
Bibby’s number for the game-winner, which he shot over Tinsley.

“[The play] was designed for me,” Bibby acknowledged afterwards. “Even if it
wasn’t designed for me, I wanted to make something happen out there,”

Added Pacers coach Rick Carlisle: “That was a typical Bibby play. In that
situation, he’s one of the great shot-makers in the game.”

Sacramento swept the season series 2-0, also beating the Pacers at home on
December 7.

Indiana got its home crowd into this one early, rolling out a 13-point
advantage after ending the first quarter with a 14-5 run to lead 35-22
after 12 minutes.

The Pacers then took their largest lead of the game early in the second
quarter when Austin Croshere made it 41-24 with two free throws around the
10:00 mark.

“We came out with a lot of energy,” Croshere said. “For some reason, the
bottom just fell out in the second half. It was a difficult loss and now we
must respond.”

IND SAC