Tuesday , Apr , 25 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Kings try to even set against Spurs without Artest

(Sports Network) – The top-seeded San Antonio Spurs hope to take a 2-0 lead
over No. 8 Sacramento tonight, as they welcome the Ron Artest-less Kings to
the AT&T Center for Game 2 of their first-round playoff matchup.

This is a best-of-seven series. Game 3 will be played on Friday at ARCO Arena.

On Saturday, Tony Parker finished with 25 points as the defending world
champion Spurs crushed the Kings, 122-88, at the AT&T Center in the opener of
their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Parker was one of seven San Antonio players to reach double-figures in
scoring, as the Spurs handed Sacramento its worst loss in the team’s playoff
history.

Nazr Mohammed ended with 18 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs, while
Tim Duncan and Nick Van Exel both netted 11 in Game 1s victory. Manu Ginobili,
Rasho Nesterovic and Michael Finley all contributed 10 points apiece for San
Antonio.

Mike Bibby recorded 17 points in the loss to San Antonio for the Kings, while
defensive stopper Ron Artest chipped in 16 points and swingman Bonzi Wells
scored 12 in defeat.

Artest was suspended on Monday for making forearm contact to the head of
Ginobili in the third quarter of Saturday’s contest. He is eligible to return
for Game 3.

The Spurs have won six straight Game 2s in the postseason, while the Kings
have lost two straight Game 2s.

This is the first time that the Spurs and Kings have squared off in the
postseason.

San Antonio, which defeated the Detroit Pistons in seven games in last year’s
NBA Finals, reached 60 wins for the third time in franchise history
during the regular season. It won 62 contests in 1994-95 and 60 during the
2002-03 campaign.

The Spurs have won the NBA title in two of three and three of the last seven
years (1999, 2003, 2005). San Antonio has reached at least the
conference semifinals five straight years. The last time the Spurs were
eliminated in the first round was in the 2000 playoffs, when they fell in four
games, 3-1, to the Phoenix Suns.

The Kings have returned to the playoffs for an eighth straight year. They
lost in five games in the first round of last year’s playoffs to the Seattle
SuperSonics. They have been eliminated three times in the opening round during
their seven-year run in the postseason.

During the regular season, San Antonio won two of the three meetings between
the clubs. The Spurs defeated the Kings, 96-93, on November 21, 2005 at ARCO
Arena, while the teams split a pair of contests at San Antonio.

Sacramento was 17-24 on the road during the regular season, while the Spurs
were an impressive 34-7 as the host.

SAC SAN