SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 30 (AP)
-- Vlade Divac
doesn't run the floor as well as most of his teammates, and his vertical leap is more of a horizontal lunge.
Peja Stojakovic shoots over Desmond Mason for two of his 26 points against the Sonics.
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But when the Sacramento Kings need consistent scoring, rebounding and passing, their veteran center still delivers splendidly.
With Chris Webber watching in a sharp gray suit, Divac had 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the Sacramento Kings' 101-95 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Tuesday night.
"I have to lead, and guys will follow,'' Divac said. "It was a good effort by everybody, but I have to take more responsibility while Chris is out. If I can get some points and just bring something extra every night, we'll be OK.''
The Kings will be without Webber, their All-NBA superstar, for the near future after he sprained his ankle during the preseason. In the first game of his absence, the Kings survived with a seven-man rotation and a wonderful night from Divac, who again raised his game in Webber's absence.
"Every time Chris has gone down, Vlade has stepped up,'' Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "Vlade is a very smart veteran player. He looked great out there. He understands that this first month is very important to us.''
Mike Bibby had 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists in his first regular-season home game with Sacramento, and Peja Stojakovic scored 26 points as the Kings barely held off Seattle.
Divac filled nearly every role normally occupied by Webber: He scored Webber's share of points and played tough defense while also making his usual crisp passes. Whether on the low block or on the perimeter, Divac kept the Sonics occupied all night.
''(Divac) is really tough to cover,'' said Vin Baker, who had 20 points for the Sonics. "He's slow and methodical with his moves, but he demands a double-team. He basically is quarterbacking that team.''
In both teams' season opener, Sacramento never managed to break open a tight, choppy game. Neither team led by more than nine points, and the Kings struggled to find the rhythm that made them the league's highest-scoring team in the past two seasons.
Bibby, acquired in an offseason trade for Jason Williams, quickly became a crowd favorite, particularly when he scored seven points in the final 63 seconds of the third quarter.
"I'm just trying to get in the flow,'' Bibby said. "It wasn't there for some of the night tonight, but it will come.''
Sacramento led by seven after Doug Christie, who missed nine of his first 10 shots, dunked with 1:57 left. Gary Payton cut the lead to 98-93 with a layup, but Christie stripped the ball from Payton with 43 seconds left, and Stojakovic hit three free throws in the final 17 seconds.
"We had some huge turnovers late in the game, helping the run they made,'' Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "Our defense needs to tighten up. We continued to allow Vlade to back us into the post.''
Payton had 18 points and 13 assists, while Brent Barry had 16 points and nine rebounds for Seattle.
Scot Pollard, who has shaved off his familiar long hair, replaced Webber in the Kings' starting lineup and got nine rebounds in 35 minutes. Stojakovic also had nine rebounds.
Adelman showed off several possible methods of replacing Webber in the Kings' rotation. Bibby and his backup, Bobby Jackson, played together for a stretch, and Christie joined them at other times in a three-guard lineup.
The Sonics debuted their new old-look uniforms, a variation of the green-and-gold outfits worn during the franchise's founding seasons.
Notes: Baker and Calvin Booth both shook off minor injuries to start for Seattle, which has missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons. ... Seattle's Rashard Lewis left the game early in the third quarter with a bruised collarbone. He didn't return, though he stayed on the Sonics' bench. ... Webber got a standing ovation when he addressed the crowd before the game. The Kings hadn't opened the regular season at home since 1995.