SAN ANTONIO, April 25 (Ticker) -- Playing without Ron Artest, the
Sacramento Kings showed plenty of resiliency against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. But they sure could have
used him against Manu Ginobili.
Ginobili scored eight of his 32 points in overtime as the Spurs
scrambled for a 128-119 victory over the Kings and a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round series.
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Ginobili also had nine assists, none more important than his
baseline bounce pass to Brent Barry, whose 3-pointer from the right
corner rattled around and off the backboard before dropping
through with 4.9 seconds left in regulation.
"I couldn't believe it," Ginobili said. "When I passed the ball
I was under the basket. My focus was on grabbing the rebound
when it looked like the shot missed, then it hit the backboard
and went in."
"This is definitely one of the biggest shots in my career,"
The eighth-seeded Kings lost, 122-88, in the series
opener and faced the prospect of taking on the top-seeded Spurs
without Artest, who was suspended by the NBA for delivering a blow to Ginobili in Game One.
Second-year swingman Kevin Martin started for Artest and collected a career-high 26 points and eight rebounds.
"It's the NBA. People step up, so any different player can step
up in any different game," Martin said.
Veterans Bonzi Wells and Shareef Abdur-Rahim also picked up the
slack. Wells had 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting and grabbed 12
rebounds and Abdur-Rahim - in the playoffs for the first time in
his 10-year career - added 27 on 12-of-19 shooting and nine boards.
"We knew we had to step up tonight because Ron wasn't here,"
Wells said. "We tried our best and we played them tough."
"Those guys came out and played a heck of a game," Barry said.
"Kevin Martin did well in Ron's absence. We kind of held Mike Bibby in check but Shareef was awesome off the bench ... Bonzi dominated us in the game
until he fouled out."
The trio helped the Kings build an early 10-point lead, erase a
10-point third-quarter deficit and hold a 106-103 advantage
after a hook shot by Abdur-Rahim with 49 seconds left in regulation.
Michael Finley answered with a jumper and Wells and Ginobili
traded free throws before Martin sank a pair from the line for a
109-106 edge with 14 seconds left.
Ginobili drove left to draw the defense and zipped a pass to
Barry, whose clutch shot forced the first overtime of the 2006
"The ball bounced in and we didn't defend the play very well,"
Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "He had a wide-open look and
when you have wide-open looks, bad things happen. That's the
way it goes."
Barry scored a playoff career-high 22 points on 8-of-12
shooting. He made 4-of-7 3-pointers.
"Every playoff game takes on a life of it's own and you never
know if you're going to be the guy who steps up and get
something done," Barry said.
There were five lead changes in the extra session, the last on
Tony Parker's layup off a feed from Ginobili that gave San
Antonio a 114-113 edge. Ginobili made three free throws after
drawing a foul from Bibby, then drove for a hoop with a
foul to open the margin to 120-113 with 1:41 to go.
"Of course they miss a great player in Ron tonight because of
his defense, but we scored a lot of points, too," Ginobili said.
"I made the shots that I could in the offense. We move the
ball and we really don't care who scores."
Parker had 22 points and 10 assists and foul-plagued Tim Duncan
added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs, who shot 51 percent
(43-of-84), including 12-of-26 from behind the arc.
Bibby scored 15 points on just 3-of-16 shooting and Kenny Thomas added 12 points for the Kings, who shot 48 percent
(42-of-87) and held a 47-34 advantage on the glass.
Duncan sat down for the final five-plus minutes of the third
quarter with his fourth foul and for nearly five minutes of the
fourth quarter with his fifth foul. During his absences, the
Spurs were outscored by eight points.
Abdur-Rahim scored 12 points in the fourth quarter but missed an
open 18-footer that could have won it at the buzzer.
"We had a shot to win the game. It just didn't go down for us,"
With Artest unavailable, the Kings went with Martin, who paid
immediate dividends. In the first half, he scored 14 points to
back 19 from Wells as Sacramento built a 56-51 lead.
The Spurs opened the second half with a 14-2 spurt fueled by
consecutive three-point plays from Ginobili. They held a 74-65
lead when Duncan sat down at the 5:22 mark but found themselves
in an 82-82 deadlock entering the fourth period.
The series shifts to Sacramento for Games 3 and 4.
"We put on a good show tonight," Wells said. "We just came up a
little bit short. Hopefully we can do the same thing in
Sacramento but come up with a win."