Last-second defense lifts Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- From the dozens of missed shots to the

bruising battles in the post, Chris Webber cringed as a beautiful

game was trampled.

The Sacramento Kings had to get ugly to get another playoff

victory -- and Webber was thrilled to discover just how tough

they've become.

Webber got his first playoff triple-double and Brad Miller hit

the go-ahead shot with 34 seconds left, leading the Kings to an

83-79 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night in Game 2 of

their first-round series.

Webber had 19 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, while Mike

Bibby hit four 3-pointers and scored 10 of his 24 points in the

fourth quarter for the Kings. They took a 2-0 lead in a playoff

series for just the second time since moving to Sacramento.

But the Kings were barely tougher than Dallas on a night when no

baskets came easy for the league's highest-scoring offenses.

Sacramento couldn't breathe easily until Peja Stojakovic knocked

the ball out of Michael Finley's hands with 11 seconds left,

setting up two clinching free throws by Doug Christie.

"Every shot is agonizing," Webber said. "You're watching,

wishing, praying it will go in. ... We missed so many shots -- both

teams did. We played tough, tough as you can against a team like

that. It was an awkward game, but we can play that way."

Game 3 is Saturday in Dallas, where the Kings have lost five

straight games dating to last season's playoffs.

Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks,

who made 32.3 percent of their shots and got just one field goal in

the final three minutes. Steve Nash finished up a 6-for-20

performance by missing an open 3-pointer with 19 seconds left, and

Finley made the last of Dallas' 14 turnovers.

"It's a tough loss, but we've got to stay confident," Nowitzki

said. "Eventually those shots will fall, and we'll stay in it."

Rookie Marquis Daniels tied it twice for Dallas with free throws

in the final 90 seconds, but Miller hit an open jumper from the

left wing. Nash missed his 3-pointer, but Webber missed two free

throws with 19.6 seconds left.

"It was an opportunity lost for us," Mavericks coach Don

Nelson said. "We had them in our sights and in striking distance.

Who would have ever thought it would be a defensive battle? ... It

looked like there was a lid on the basket. It's just one of those

nights you dread as a coach."

The game had no resemblance to the series opener, when the teams

combined for 221 points. Instead, the Kings and Mavs shot with

roughly equal ineptitude, leading to a physical game that suited

neither team.

"I don't know if it was a defensive battle," Bibby said.

"Everybody was missing shots tonight."

Webber kept Sacramento ahead early, but the Kings fell into a

2-for-19 funk midway through the third quarter. It ended with

Bibby's 3-pointer with 5:41 to play, and the teams traded baskets

to the thrilling finish.

Daniels had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Mavericks, who

were joined by glum owner Mark Cuban as they filed off the court.

Eduardo Najera, who went 2-for-3 and played tough defense on

Webber, was the only Dallas player to make more than 50 percent of

his shots.

But Najera's physical play angered Kings coach Rick Adelman. The

Dallas forward twice sent Webber tumbling to the floor.

"You throw a guy in the game like Najera, and the only reason

he's in there is to beat the hell out of Webber," Adelman said.

"I don't think there's room in the game for that."

Webber seriously injured his knee during the playoffs against

Dallas last season, returning only for the final two months of this

season. His struggles with pain and inconsistency have panicked

Sacramento's fans, but the old Webber was back in action in Game 2.

Moving with dexterity he hadn't shown consistently since last

season, Webber finished the first half with 13 points, 11 rebounds

and nine assists while scoring repeatedly in the post.

Webber shot terribly -- 6-for-19 -- but he still carried the

Kings. He completed the triple-double on Stojakovic's 3-pointer

just 75 seconds into the second half.

Dallas missed 10 straight shots during one first-half stretch,

and Sacramento went without a field goal in the final eight minutes

of the third quarter.

Game notes
Dallas F Antawn Jamison left the game in the fourth quarter

with tight hamstrings. After scoring 18 points in Game 1, he was

scoreless in 11 minutes. ... Webber has 17 career triple-doubles in

the regular season. ... Kings G Bobby Jackson has ruled himself out

of the series with the abdominal injury that has plagued him since

early February.