SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Doug Christie's only flaw was a missed free throw in the first quarter -- the only one for the Sacramento
Kings on a night when their margin for error was minuscule.
Christie had 20 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks
and a steal to lead the Kings to a 115-109 victory over the
Mavericks on Thursday night, evening their best-of-seven Western
Conference semifinal series at 3-3.
"I was blessed with some ability and my job is to make this
team go, whatever way,'' Christie said. "I was just very focused
and tried to do anything and everything I could.''
Peja Stojakovic had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who
played their fourth game in the series without injured star Chris
Webber. Sacramento overcame a sluggish first quarter and converted
31 of 32 free throws, including 31 straight after Christie's miss.
"That was it, luckily,'' Christie said, smiling.
Kings coach Rick Adelman threw his arm up in the air in
excitement during the final seconds. Game 7 is Saturday night in
The Mavs remain one win away from their second trip to the
conference finals, while the Kings' quest for the franchise's first
title in 52 years is still alive.
Van Exel scored 35 points on 15-for-23 shooting in 37 minutes,
and the Kings had no one who could guard him. He leapt high for a
rebound and scored on a putback with 8:16 left for a 95-94 lead,
but the Mavs then didn't make another basket for 5:05.
"We had a great advantage up 3-2,'' he said. "We needed to
take care of this tonight. We let it slip away. Nick had a good
game with an L (loss).''
Dallas, eliminated in five games by Sacramento last season, did
not want to go the distance in this series after being pushed to
the limit by Portland in the first round.
Webber limped helplessly around the sidelines in his designer
duds and watched nervously from the edge of his seat, popping his
bubble gum anxiously.
"I'm always nervous when I'm not playing,'' he said. "It was
hard, but I knew we were going to win.''
His supporting cast came through just fine, with Christie again
setting the tone early -- hustling for loose balls, going hard to
the glass and making big baskets. At one point in the third period,
Christie gathered his crew together for a pep talk, then scored six
straight points and six of his team's eight during a 10-3 run
spanning two minutes in which Dallas was limited to three free
He'd scored a combined 34 points in his previous two games.
The deafening crowd of 17,317 became more raucous in the second
half. The Kings sold out for the 178th consecutive game, the
longest active streak in the league.
Walt Williams missed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 12 seconds left,
and Bobby Jackson made two free throws on the other end to ice the
It was an impressive show by the teams' sixth men -- Bobby
Jackson and Van Exel, who practically traded baskets the entire
Jackson came off the bench to score nine straight in the second,
including a steal and layup with 4:47 left for a 44-37 lead. Jim
Jackson also made some clutch hoops, scoring 10 in the period as
the Kings took a 57-52 halftime lead.
Van Exel had 17, making all three of his 3-point tries in the
Adelman was desperate to see his Kings play well for all 48
minutes after they blew an early lead in Game 5 with an atrocious
third quarter, shooting 3-for-25. Their 10 points were the fewest
ever by a Dallas opponent in a postseason quarter.
The Mavs got better production from Nowitzki, Finley and Steve
Nash, who shot just 16-for-55 for 38 points in Game 4 here, but
they allowed the Kings 15 offensive rebounds.
Nash didn't score Thursday until 5:58 before halftime and
finished with 15.
Mavs coach Don Nelson was able to block out the noise -- his best
friend and golfing buddy in Maui, Jim Sanders, mailed him a fancy,
$13 pair of earplugs, an upgrade from the "cheapies'' he'd used in
the first two games of the series here.
"They're the ones the entertainers wear,'' Nelson pointed out.
One fan held a sign reading, "Never ? the heart of a King.''
Another group each held up a letter to spell "B-E-L-I-E-V-E.'' And
the clanging cowbells were out in force, too.
Webber, the Kings' leader in scoring, rebounding and assists,
tore cartilage in his left knee in Game 2 and the injury will
require arthroscopic surgery that will keep him out at least
But Webber put off the procedure, hoping to possibly play again
this season if the Kings reach the NBA Finals.
Commissioner David Stern opted to attend Game 6 of the
Mavs-Kings rather than go to L.A. for the Spurs-Lakers, where the
three-time defending champions were eliminated. "You know what?
I've been to L.A. already this year and I haven't been to
Sacramento,'' Stern said. "I wanted to be here.'' Stern was booed
when he was announced during the game. ... Vlade Divac didn't have
a rebound in the first half.