Monday , Apr , 19 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Kings crown Mavericks in playoff opener

Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) – Peja Stojakovic netted 28 points and grabbed
eight rebounds to lead Sacramento to a 116-105 win over Dallas in the highly-
entertaining opener of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at ARCO

Chris Webber chipped in 26 points and 12 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Kings,
who failed in their bid to win the Pacific Division title after they lost to
Golden State and the Lakers defeated Portland on the final night of the
regular season.

Doug Christie added 21 points, a playoff career-high 11 assists and eight
rebounds for Sacramento, which will host Game 2 of the best-of-seven series
Tuesday night.

Dirk Nowitzki poured in a game-high 32 points and hauled in 13 boards for the
fifth-seeded Mavericks. Antawn Jamison contributed 18 points in the loss.

“We’ve got to forget this game as soon as possible,” Nowitzki said. “They were
on fire from all angles. We had to grind out every basket, and they had too
many easy ones.”

The Kings made 53 percent of their shots for the game (44-of-83) and hit 11-
of-21 tries from three-point range (52 percent). The Mavericks connected on 45
percent of their attempts (41-of-91) and made 8-of-21 shots from behind the
arc (38 percent).

“Playing them, I can imagine how defensively tough it is to play us,” Webber
said. “We don’t panic as much as I think the outside panics. We just kept it
together and played all four quarters the same way.”

Sacramento led 86-85 after three quarters and quickly increased its advantage
to 92-85 as Mike Bibby’s three-pointer with 10:52 remaining capped a 10-0
burst that bridged the third and fourth periods. Christie’s breakaway layup
with just over nine minutes remaining made it 96-87 and Anthony Peeler’s
three-pointer near the midway point of the quarter widened the gap to 105-92.

Bibby drained two free throws with 4:14 left to make it 109-94 and the
Mavericks never seriously threatened again.

“They (Sacramento) don’t play much better than this,” Dallas head coach Don
Nelson said. “This is one of their best games of the season, or at least since
Webber has been back.”

Sacramento began the game by scoring eight of the first nine points, but the
Mavericks rallied and pulled within 10-8 on Marquis Daniels’ basket with
around seven minutes left in the first quarter. Stojakovic’s three-pointer
later in the frame stretched the edge back to seven at 17-10 and the Kings
eventually led 34-31 after one period.

Dallas came out on fire to begin the second as it used a 12-4 surge to claim a
43-38 edge. During the quick run, Daniels and Jamison each scored four points.
The Kings got right back into the game and actually grabbed a 52-50 lead later
in the period, but Dallas scored the final four points of the half and took a
65-63 advantage into the intermission.

Nowitzki scored 16 points for the Mavericks, who shot 53 percent from the
floor in the first half (24-of-45). Stojakovic netted 15 for Sacramento, which
made 24-of-43 attempts from the field in the opening 24 minutes (56 percent).

In the third quarter, Nowitzki’s three early in the period staked his club to
a 72-67 lead, but the Kings used a quick 9-2 run, capped by Stojakovic’s
three-pointer, to pull ahead 76-74. The game remained tight throughout the
rest of the period and Sacramento led 86-85 after 36 minutes.

Bibby had 14 points and seven assists.

Steve Nash and Daniels each scored 13 for Dallas. Nash also had eight assists.

These teams are meeting for the third straight year in the playoffs. Dallas
eliminated the Kings in seven games in last year’s Western Conference
semifinals, while Sacramento knocked out the Mavericks in five games in the
2002 conference semis.