SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 13 (Ticker) --
Win or lose, the Dallas Mavericks knew they would be going home. Hedo Turkoglu
and the Sacramento Kings made sure the flight home would not be a pleasant one.
Turkoglu jump-started the decisive run and recorded his first career playoff double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Kings eliminated the Mavericks with a 114-101 triumph in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinal series.
After Dirk Nowitzki scored eight straight points to get Dallas
within 70-69, Turkoglu -- starting for the injured Peja Stojakovic -- made a putback layup with 4:55 left in the third quarter and added a 3-pointer and a jumper during a 16-4 run to close the period.
Mike Bibby celebrated his 24th birthday by posting 23 points and six assists.|
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
Dallas trailed by double figures the entire fourth quarter.
"I just wanted to contribute since I had been struggling a lot this series," said Turkoglu, who had just four points on 2-of-8 shooting in Game 4 but was 9-of-19 in the clincher. "The guys had confidence in me, and my shots started falling."
"It seems like on this team, someone always steps up," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "Tonight it was Hedo. He exploded on them. We had such faith in him. He plays such a great all-around game, defending and rebounding."
Mike Bibby, who was celebrating his 24th birthday, and Chris Webber added 23 points apiece to lead the top-seeded Kings into the conference finals for the first time since 1981, when the franchise was based in Kansas City. It moved to Sacramento prior to the 1985-86 season.
"I don't want to get caught up thinking about this win," Webber said. "Hopefully, we have a longer road ahead. In my nine-year career, this is the farthest I've been and it feels good. It feels good right now, but we still have more work to do. Four years ago, we came together with the goal to win a championship. We have stuck with it."
Vlade Divac collected 18 points and Bobby Jackson and Doug Christie chipped in 15 apiece for Sacramento, which awaits the
winner of the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers have a 3-1 lead.
During the fourth quarter, as the Kings built their advantage to as many as 17 points, the ARCO Arena faithful chanted, "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A."
"This was a great night for us, but it was just another step toward our ultimate goal," Divac said. "We are going to
celebrate tonight, but tomorrow it is just a whole other deal. We have to focus and prepare for the next series."
Nowitzki registered 32 points and 12 rebounds and Michael Finley scored 26 points for the Mavericks, who had won three of four this season at ARCO Arena, including Game 2.
"With the success of our team, I've had real high expectations, not just to get to this round but to advance to the next round," Finley said. "But unfortunately for us, we've met a Sacramento team that was playing good basketball. They played better than us for four games, and that's all they needed to do."
Dallas received subpar efforts from guards Steve Nash and Nick Van Exel, who combined for 18 points, and suffered its third consecutive defeat.
"I think the reason we lost this series has little to do with experience as people may make it out to be," Nash said. "I
don't think we lived up to our capabilities with some of our key structures. Maybe we do have to take steps, maybe not. I guess the future will tell.
"We have to improve defensively, there is no question about that, but I don't think we have to completely change our style. We just have to get better defensively."
Both teams shot 48 percent from the floor, but Sacramento held a big edge at the free-throw line, making 26-of-32 attempts while Dallas was just 15-of-20.
The Kings took the lead for good with 8:49 remaining in the first quarter, when Christie made a fadeaway jumper to make it 10-8.
Sacramento held a 32-26 lead after one quarter and took a 59-53 edge into halftime. Divac paced the Kings with 16 points at the break, while Nowitzki led the Mavs with 17. Nash was limited to one field-goal attempt and five points through two quarters.
The Kings led 68-61 when Webber aggravated a left ankle injury four minutes into the third quarter. After Divac made a
reverse layup, Nowitzki -- taking advantage of Webber's absence -- made an eight-foot jump shot, a nine-foot fadeaway, a dunk and a 20-foot jumper to get the Mavs within 70-69 with 5:37 remaining.
But Turkoglu scored off his offensive rebound to begin the Kings' counterattack, and by the time Webber returned with 3:16 left in the period, Sacramento's lead was back to eight points.
"You have to take your hat off to them," said Mavs center Raef LaFrentz, who scored just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting. "They played a great series and they beat us playing our style. That's really all you can say. They had a good defensive scheme, took us out of our rhythm."
The teams were the highest-scoring clubs in the regular season, with Dallas averging 105.2 points and Sacramento 104.6. Many giddily anticipated a tight, seven-game series of full-throttle action. But despite the high scoring -- the teams' 66-66 halftime score in Game 3 exceeded the total of the Boston-Detroit contest a day later -- the Kings made sure the
series would not reach a sixth game.
"What a great experience for our team to go through," said Mavs coach Don Nelson, whose team lost in five games to San Antonio in last year's conference semifinals. "I just love my team so much and how hard they played. We have a lot of growing to do to get at the level the Kings are at. We're working hard at it. I can't say it was a great series because great series last more than five games. But I will say there were a lot of great games. It was so much fun to go through this process."
"This group, without Peja, took it upon themselves to win this thing," Adelman said. "Now we move on to the next round.
Hopefully, we will have a few days to rest and get some of our people who are banged up rested."