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Kings 104, Suns 96
Royal Comeback
PHOENIX, April 29 (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings can play with a dazzling style.

Yet in the down-and-dirty world of the NBA playoffs Sunday, they showed some old-fashioned, tough substance, too.

The Kings turned to reliable basketball virtues -- defense, rebounding and free throw shooting -- to beat the Phoenix Suns 104-96 and are one victory from their first playoff series triumph in 20 years.

Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd feeds Chris Dudley on Sunday.
AP Photos TV highlights: 28.8+ | ISDN+
"I always kind of laugh at the fact that talk about how we are just a style team," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "They obviously haven't seen us play."

With the victory, Sacramento wrestled the homecourt advantage back from the Suns to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Phoenix.

"We can be real entertaining," Adelman said. "But we've done the dirty work all year. If we're going to win in the playoffs, especially on the road, you've got to defend, you've got to rebound and you've got to play defense."

The Kings' franchise last won a playoff series in 1981, when they were in Kansas City.

"I have those butterflies -- the good ones," Chris Webber said, "the ones that are in your stomach because you're excited, not because your scared. It's almost a dream come true."

Webber, smothered by defenders much of the game, scored 23 points for the Kings, while Predrag Stojakovic added 21 and Jason Williams had 14, including nine in a row in the third quarter on two 3-pointers and a three-point play.

Doug Christie added 17 points, including a crucial 3-pointer that put Sacramento up 97-92 with 1:03 remaining. He also blocked Jason Kidds' layup attempt from behind and sank another 3-pointer with Kidd on the floor at the other end of a court with a bruised hip.

After Phoenix had rallied to tie it at 90, Sacramento outscored the Suns 14-6 over the final three minutes.

Rodney Rogers
Rodney Rogers finishes with force on Sunday:
892k avi | QuickTime
Jason Kidd had 19 points and 16 assists for the Suns, who had taken the homecourt edge with an 86-83 victory in Game 1 a week earlier.

But the Suns were in foul trouble almost from the start in this one, and the Kings rallied from 17 points down early to get within two at halftime.

With his team trailing 36-19 at the end of the first quarter, Adelman reminded the Kings of their many previous comebacks, including the time they rallied from 28 points down in the same building to beat the Suns.

"He just looked us in the eyes and said, 'This is nothing,'" Webber said.

Tony Delk scored 18 points for Phoenix, while Shawn Marion added 14 points and 10 rebounds but shot just 4-for-15.

Offensive rebounds led to four crucial points down the stretch for Sacramento. Stojakavic made two free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound and put the Kings ahead for good at 92-90 with 2:42 to play. Vlade Divac, who shot just 4-for-12, slammed home an offensive rebound with 1:33 remaining to make it 94-90.

Sacramento had a 48-38 rebound advantage, 12-9 on the offensive boards. The Kings had 18 second-chance points, the Suns nine.

"We have not rebounded the ball well in this series," Suns coach Scott Skiles said. "At critical moments, they came up with rebounds and second possessions, and they scored. If I had to point to anything, it would be that they have just been all over the glass on us."

The Kings made 11 of 12 free throws over the final 3:20 and were 34-for-41 from the line for the game.

Webber made nine of 11 free throws, while Stojakovic was 11-of-12.

Delk had a baseline jumper and a 3-pointer in a 10-2 spurt that caught the Kings at 90-90 on Cliff Robinson's drive with three minutes remaining. Robinson, however, was just 2-for-8 from the foul line and had nine points.

Scot Pollard scored 10 points for the Kings, all in the first half and mostly with offensive rebounds that were critical to Sacramento's comeback.

"He's the MVP of the series at this point," Kidd said. "He's destroyed us. After we got the lead, we got kind of lazy and committed some silly fouls."

Marion, Robinson, Jake Tsakalidis and Rodney Rogers all went to the bench with three fouls for Phoenix in the second quarter.

"It was hard to maintain any sort of continuity in the second quarter because we were dealing with foul trouble most of the time," Skiles said.

Notes: If Phoenix wins Game 4, Game 5 will be in Sacramento on Friday. ... Four Phoenix players drew two fouls apiece in the first quarter, when Skiles used 10 of his 11 players. ... Kidd sat the first four minutes of the second quarter, during the early stages of Sacramento's comeback. ... Pollard got into foul trouble and was no factor in the second half.
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