SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 18 (Ticker) -- Doug Christie
gave the Sacramento Kings a spark.
Christie had a terrific all-around game and spearheaded a rare defensive surge in the fourth quarter as the Kings pulled away from the Dallas Mavericks for a 116-105 victory in their Western Conference first-round series opener.
Christie just missed a triple-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, picking up the slack for backcourt mate Mike Bibby
, who struggled early. But Christie's biggest boost came on defense, considered an afterthought in this series.
Peja Stojakovic hit five treys and scored 28 points in Game 1.|
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
"Defensively, we were just active," said Christie, a member of the NBA's All-Defensive First Team last season. "We didn't stop on rotations. We just kept running, trying to contest shots."
"He brought it tonight," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "He played so hard and so effective for us. Doug sets the tone for all our energy for us."
The NBA's top two scoring teams entered the fourth quarter with Sacramento holding an 86-85 lead. Christie scored six points in a 16-6 run where much of the offense was fueled by defense.
"As you get older and see your career winding down, I can say, 'What if?'" the 33-year-old Christie said. "I'm just going to give everything I've got. If we have to crawl, we're going to crawl."
"Doug always does that, even in practice," Bibby said. "Some people might take practice off. Doug plays like that all the time."
After scoring off an offensive rebound, Christie stripped Antoine Walker
and went in for a breakaway dunk that made it 96-87 with 9:13 remaining.
The Mavericks closed to 96-91 before Chris Webber
answered with a jump hook. With Christie preventing Dallas from getting into its offense, Sacramento forced consecutive turnovers that were converted into two free throws each by Christie and PejaStojakovic
for a 102-91 lead with 6:47 left.
"If Doug can't inspire you, nobody will," Webber said. "He's my pick for Defensive Player of the Year. ... He definitely influences us. He is our defense. We go as he goes. So he definitely inspires us."
Stojakovic scored 28 points and Webber added 26 and 12 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Kings, who flashed plenty of offense as well. Sacramento shot 53 percent (44-of-83) from the field and had six players in double figures.
had 32 points and 13 rebounds for Dallas but was held scoreless for the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter before sinking a meaningless 3-pointer.
"They turned up the defense and played us well in the second half," Dallas coach Don Nelson said.
The fifth-seeded Mavericks, who beat the Kings in seven games in last year's conference semifinals, try to get even in Game 2 here on Tuesday.
Sacramento came in having lost eight of its last 12 games, giving away the Pacific Division title. The Kings seemed to shake that off in the first quarter, taking a 34-31 lead as Stojakovic scored 13 points.
"I think we understood what was at stake," Christie said. "We hadn't been playing well lately. And if we don't play well, we'll go home."
Dallas got a lift from rookies Marquis Daniels
and Josh Howard
, who scored 11 points each in the first half. A layup by Howard gave the Mavericks a 65-63 halftime lead.
Stojakovic and Bibby began the fourth quarter with 3-pointers before Christie took charge. The Kings were 11-of-21 from the arc, setting a playoff franchise record for 3-pointers in a game.
scored 18 points in 19 minutes off the bench for Dallas. But Walker and Michael Finley
managed just nine points each on a combined 7-of-24 shooting and Daniels and Howard totaled just two points after halftime. Daniels committed six turnovers.
"My two young rookies have been terrific all year," Nelson said. "But they didn't get a break all game. I guess you have to pay the price, being a young player."