SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 4 (Ticker) --
Playing with their backs to
the basket, Chris Webber
and Vlade Divac
kept the Sacramento
Kings in front of the Dallas Mavericks.
Webber and Divac dominated the low post and the Kings got the
jump on the Mavericks with a 108-91 victory in their Western
Conference semifinal series opener.
NBA TV highlights from|
The Mavericks and Kings were 1-2 in the NBA in scoring during
the regular season. Both teams play at a breakneck pace and
shoot plenty of jump shots, but the Kings have a pair of
accomplished low-post players in Webber and Divac.
Peja Stojakovic puts in two of his game-high 26 points.|
When the quick and easy shots were not there, the Kings dumped
the ball into the low block, where Webber and Divac were able to
score against the soft interior defense of the Mavericks.
"We thought we had an advantage there," Kings coach Rick Adelman
said. "I think we can do a better job of getting them the
ball. They did a nice job of trying to front and (defend) from
the side, but we'll have to do a better job of getting them the
"Those two guys have to make a statement for us inside. We have
to make their guys guard us. We have to put pressure on them."
Webber overcame early foul trouble to collect 20 points and 10
rebounds. He scored 13 points in the third quarter, when the
Kings broke open the game.
"I can't let the things that discourage you from going in the
post during the season discourage me from going in the post
during the postseason," said Webber, who has been accused in the
past of settling too easily for jumpers."
Divac controlled the paint on both ends, totaling 18 points and
16 rebounds as he frustrated Dallas' front line.
"He was terrific," Adelman said. "He got 16 rebounds and he was
a force inside. He made them guard him."
The inside play spread the court and allowed sharpshooter Peja
Stojakovic to score 26 points. The Kings scored 64 points in
the paint and also controlled the backboards, holding a 53-43
advantage. They had 17 offensive rebounds and 22 second-chance
After torching Minnesota in the first round, Dallas cooled off
considerably, shooting just 39 percent (35-of-90) and going
without a basket for nearly seven minutes in the final period.
Dirk Nowitzki, who averaged 33.3 points in the sweep, was held
to 23 on 8-of-24 shooting.
"My first couple of shots were flat and I just couldn't find my
rhythm, like I did in the first series," Nowitzki said.
"It is a long series and it was just one game that he
struggled," Divac cautioned. "I'm sure the next game, he'll do
The Mavericks won both of their regular-season visits to ARCO
Arena, but their loss left the Los Angeles Lakers as the only
unbeaten playoff team. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is
Monday at Sacramento.
The Kings won a conference semifinal game for the first time
since moving from Kansas City in 1985. The Mavs fell to 0-8 in
series openers on the road.
Mike Bibby had two baskets to spark a 7-2 burst that closed the
first half and gave the Kings the lead for good at 55-50. A
lefthanded layup by Webber built the bulge to 63-53 early in the
"I went to the locker room at halftime and really just tried to
relax," Webber said. "It was frustrating because I didn't know
what I was doing wrong."
"He's awesome," Nowitzki said of Webber. "He's a great low-post
player and he played aggressive."
Divac had a nifty spin move underneath and Webber added a free
throw for a 78-63 lead with 3:03 to go. Nowitzki got untracked
a bit with consecutive jumpers and Steve Nash hit a 3-pointer to
cut the deficit to 82-74 entering the final period.
"Vlade Divac played really well tonight," Bibby said. "He did
that hook shot that he does so well and scored when we needed
him to score."
However, Bibby opened with a 3-pointer and Stojakovic added a
fast-break layup. A hook shot by Nick Van Exel pulled the Mavs
within 91-81 with 9:04 remaining, but they went cold and got no
closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Bobby Jackson scored 12 points and Bibby added 11 and eight
assists for the Kings, who shot 46 percent (43-of-93).
Stojakovic had 10 rebounds and Doug Christie handed out eight
Michael Finley scored 21 points and Nash added 12, but the
backcourt mates combined to make just 12-of-31 shots. Van Exel
scored 15 points and Nowitzki swept 14 boards.
"I thought it ws a game where we didn't have anyone who played
to their potential," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "That's why
it was disappointing."
Nowitzki had a rough first half, making just 4-of-13 shots and
getting shoved into the padded backboard stanchion early in the
second quarter by Scot Pollard, who drew a technical foul. But
his layup with 6:18 left gave Dallas a 37-36 lead.
Webber was just 3-of-11 in the first half and took a seat with
5:12 left. But his teammates picked up the slack.