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.

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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.
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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 ball.

"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 points.

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 better."

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 third quarter.

"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 assists.

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.