19-7 fourth-quarter run jump-starts Kings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- After several tough practices and a

few emotional speeches from their leaders, the Sacramento Kings

opened the playoffs with a rush of energy -- enough to outrun and

outscore the Dallas Mavericks.

Peja Stojakovic scored 28 points and Chris Webber added 26

points and 12 rebounds, propelling the Kings to a 116-105 victory

in the opener of their first-round playoff series on Sunday.

Shaking off the uncertainty of a late-season collapse that cost

them the Pacific Division title, the Kings were flying from the

opening tip. They made a franchise-record 11 of 21 3-pointers,

including five by Stojakovic to tie Sacramento's individual playoff


The Kings also claim they've got a new focus on defense and

inside play -- though it wasn't obvious until the fourth quarter,

when not even Dirk Nowitzki could keep Dallas close in a fitting

start for a series between the NBA's two highest-scoring teams.

"Playing them, I can imagine how defensively tough it is to

play us," Webber said. "We don't panic as much as I think the

outside panics. We just kept it together and played all four

quarters the same way."

Webber addressed his teammates during practice Saturday, saying

the Kings were out of time to reverse their late-season slide. In

the postseason, Webber said, all slates are wiped clean -- and the

Kings wrote down a big number in the opener.

Nowitzki had 32 points and 13 rebounds but battled foul trouble

for the Mavericks, who came in 1-8 in playoff series openers on the

road. These Mavs struggled away from Dallas all season, going

16-25, and the Kings were just as inhospitable as their

cowbell-ringing fans.

"They don't play much better than this," Dallas coach Don

Nelson said. "This is one of their best games of the season, or at

least since Webber has been back."

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Sacramento, with Game 3 on Saturday

in Dallas.

The Kings have only themselves to blame for what seems to be the

NBA's toughest first-round matchup. They lost eight of their final

12 games in the regular season, blowing the Pacific Division title

and dropping into the conference's fourth seed with a loss to

Golden State in the season finale.

The game wasn't decided until the fourth quarter, when

Sacramento opened with a 19-7 run keyed by the defense of Doug

Christie and Webber, who endangered his gimpy knees and ankles by

diving on the floor to retrieve a loose ball.

Stojakovic and Anthony Peeler hit 3-pointers, and the Kings

scored 11 points off four consecutive Dallas turnovers. The

Mavericks responded poorly to the defensive pressure encouraged by

Kings coach Rick Adelman, who jumped and gestured on the sidelines

with unusual fervor.

"I've always said this team was a smart team," Adelman said.

"I thought they got better at focusing on what we need to

accomplish as the game went on. All we've been thinking about for

three weeks is that you have to have a consistent effort. If we

aren't outworking them every minute, they're going to hurt you."

Christie had 21 points -- tying his career playoff high -- along

with eight rebounds and a playoff career-best 11 assists, while

Mike Bibby scored 13 of his 14 points in the second half.

Antawn Jamison scored 18 points in his first career playoff

game, while starting Dallas guards Marquis Daniels and Steve Nash

managed just 13 points apiece on 11-for-29 shooting. Michael Finley

and Antoine Walker also struggled, shooting 7-for-24.

"We've got to forget this game as soon as possible," Nowitzki

said. "They were on fire from all angles. We had to grind out

every basket, and they had too many easy ones."

The Mavericks entered their third straight playoff meeting with

the Kings on a roll, winning eight of 10 with a small-ball lineup

featuring the 6-foot-9 Walker at center. They used the same lineup

in their playoff opener, producing tremendous matchup problems for

the more traditional Kings until the fourth, when Sacramento also

went small.

Game notes
All-Star Brad Miller scored just two points in 20 minutes,

struggling to get in the flow of the Kings' offense. ... Daniels

had four steals and six turnovers. ... Kings G Bobby Jackson was

not in uniform because of an abdominal injury that sidelined him

for 28 of the final 29 regular-season games. The team has no idea

when he'll feel good enough to return. ... Shortly after halftime,

Kings fan Tony Firpo won a truck by making a half-court shot.