DALLAS (Ticker) -- The Sacramento Kings ended the Dallas
Mavericks' season last April and begin the 2004-05 campaign with
a visit to American Airlines Center, hoping to maintain their
hold on the rivalry.
In a matchup of the top two scoring teams in the league last
season, the Kings defeated the Mavericks, four games to one, in
the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Dallas' All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki missed a shot at the
buzzer in Game Five, sending Sacramento on to the conference
semifinals, where it lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves in seven
Kings point guard Mike Bibby poured in 36 points in the clincher
vs. the Mavericks last year and will be relied on for similar
performances this year. He and Peja Stojakovic, who struggled
in the playoffs last year, are two prime scoring options on a
team that should put up a ton of points again.
More important than another year of Bibby and Stojakovic is the
healthy return of four-time All-Star forward Chris Webber and
super-sub guard Bobby Jackson. Webber appeared in just 23 games
last season while Jackson was banged up down the stretch and
missed the playoffs.
Brad Miller, who will be featured more at the center spot with
veteran Vlade Divac leaving for Los Angeles, will be pitted
underneath with Mavericks center Erick Dampier, one of owner
Mark Cuban's multitude of offseason acquisitions.
Dampier, Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Calvin Booth and rookie
Devin Harris will all feature prominently in coach Don Nelson's
rotation. Harris has earned the starting spot at point ahead of
Terry while Stackhouse takes over the role previously occupied
by Antawn Jamison - a strong scorer off the bench.
Gone from Dallas is Jamison, Steve Nash, Antoine Walker, Tony
Delk, Eduardo Najera and Danny Fortson. And don't be surprised
to see Cuban make some more moves if his team struggles over the
first half of the season.
But Dallas remains Nowitzki's team and the 7-footer, who
averaged 26.6 points and 11.8 points in the playoff series vs.
the Kings, should get the majority of first looks in the