SEATTLE, April 23 (Ticker) --
Jerome James was there to clean up after
James had the game of his life with 17 points, 15 rebounds and
five blocks as the Seattle SuperSonics held on for an 87-82
victory over the Sacramento Kings in Game One of their Western
Conference first-round series.
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The third-seeded SuperSonics, who rely heavily on the jump shot,
survived 36.5 percent (31-of-85) shooting and held off the
sixth-seeded Kings, who erased nearly all of a 21-point
third-quarter deficit but could not overcome their own shooting
On a perimeter-based team with All-Stars Ray Allen and Rashard
Lewis, James often is an afterthought despite his 7-1, 275-pound
frame. He averaged just 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds this
season and often was the first player pulled when coach Nate
McMillan opted for a small lineup.
But in his first playoff game in three years, the big guy came
up big. He set an early tone on both backboards with blocked
shots and eight of Seattle's 22 offensive rebounds, a handful of
which he turned into follow shots.
However, James' biggest basket came in the final minute. A
jumper and 3-pointer by Cuttino Mobley pulled Sacramento within
83-82 with 42 seconds to go. On the next possession, Antonio
Daniels took a backdoor pass from Lewis and fed James, whose
hoop gave Seattle an 85-82 edge with 25 seconds left.
Mobley missed a 3-pointer and Mike Bibby fired an airball on a
3-pointer before Allen sealed it with two free throws with 8.7
The miss capped an awful game for Bibby, one of the NBA's best
clutch shooters. He made just 1-of-16 shots, dragging
Sacramento down under 39 percent (34-of-88).
Allen had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Lewis scored 18 points and
Reggie Evans also swept 15 boards for Seattle, which hosts Game
Two of the best-of-seven series Tuesday.
Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic played through a groin strain to
score 24 points but none in the final nine minutes. Mobley
added 22 points for the Kings.