SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 29 (Ticker) --
In the highest-scoring game
of the playoffs, the final minutes came down to defense.
scored 12 of his playoff career-high 36 points in the
fourth quarter as the Sacramento Kings advanced to the Western
Conference semifinals with a 119-118 victory over the Dallas
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Mike Bibby directed his team to the Western Conference semifinals.
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
The NBA's top top offensive teams played an unusually low-key
first-round series as neither team was averaging better than 95
points in the first four games. But both teams busted out in
this one as the Kings desperately tried to eliminate the
Sacramento was clinging to a 115-114 lead with 5 1/2 minutes
left, but the teams combined for just eight points thereafter.
made a pair of free throws for the Kings before
Bibby buried a jumper to make it 119-114 at 3:21.
Sacramento did not score again and the Mavericks pulled within a
point on Dirk Nowitzki
's jumper with 29 seconds left.
Nowitzki forced Bibby into a miss and had a chance to win it at
the other end, but Peja Stojakovic
knocked the ball out of his
hands and Nowitzki missed an off-balance jumper as time expired.
"I thought he fouled me," Nowitzki said. "They had a foul to
give, so he was really aggressive. But they didn't call it and
the next thing you know, there only were a couple seconds left
and I had to get one up. It just didn't go."
"We expected they were going to go to Dirk or (Steve Nash
Stojakovic said. "I knocked the ball from his hand a little
bit. On the shot, I did disturb him, but I didn't touch his
Stojakovic, the Kings leading scorer and widely considered the
NBA's top shooter, played a decidedly different role in this
series with three stellar defensive stops to end games.
He knocked away the ball from Michael Finley
in the closing
seconds of Game 2 and prevented Nash from getting a good look
on a last-gasp effort in Game 4.
Dallas led by as many as 16 points early but could not contain
Sacramento, which shot 53 percent (48-of-91) from the floor and
made 11-of-20 3-pointers.
After a jump hook by Antawn Jamison
gave the Mavericks a 46-30
advantage with 8:48 left in the second quarter, Bibby ignited a
24-7 run with 14 points to put the Kings in front, 61-57, with
carried Sacramento offensively in the third period,
scoring 13 of his 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting, and Bibby took
over in the fourth.
"I knew everyone didn't want to go back to Dallas," Bibby said.
"We wanted to handle it tonight."
"He really killed us," Nash said. "He made some big shots to
get them back in the game and he made some shots down the
stretch as well."
Stojakovic collected 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Kings
advanced to face the winner of the first-round series between
the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets.
Nowitzki had 31 points and 14 rebounds and Nash collected 24
points and 14 assists for the Mavericks, who reached the second
round in their previous three playoff appearances.
"If we need to change personnel, we need to change our
identity," Nash said. "We need to be better defensive and have
more role players. Maybe it will take more time. Maybe next
year, we'll find more rhythm. Maybe it's not the right