Bibby hits for 36, Nowitzki misses at buzzer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki moved, pump-faked and

let fly just before the final buzzer. In a game featuring 237

points, he was almost certain the Dallas Mavericks' postseason

would be extended with one last basket.

Instead, the first-round series matching the NBA's two best

offenses ended with a clang -- and the Sacramento Kings finally


Mike Bibby set career playoff bests with six 3-pointers and 36

points, and Nowitzki missed a jumper at the buzzer while being

defended by Peja Stojakovic as the Kings eliminated the Mavericks

with a 119-118 victory Thursday night in Game 5 of their

first-round series.

The Kings' final three victories in the series all came down to

the final shot, but Dallas came up short -- or long, or off-center --

on all three tries. After Michael Finley and Steve Nash failed

before him, Nowitzki was bothered just enough by Stojakovic -- again

an improbable defensive hero.

"I just hoped he would miss it," Stojakovic said. "Everybody

had been making shots all night, so there wasn't much we could do.

We just tried to score more points than them."

Stojakovic scored 23 points for the Kings, who tied their

franchise playoff record of 11 3-pointers for the second time in

the series. Sacramento needed every one of them, since Dallas held

the Kings scoreless in the final 3:22.

The Mavericks closed within one point with 29.4 seconds left on

a putback layup by Nowitzki, who had 31 points. Bibby ran the clock

down and drove the lane, but couldn't draw a foul on Nowitzki and

threw the ball away.

Steve Nash got the ball to Nowitzki, who barely missed. Kings

owners Joe and Gavin Maloof rushed the court in celebration while

the sellout crowd roared and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban frowned.

"I think that's a shot that I can make," Nowitzki said. "It

looked pretty good. I had a good fake, a good look at it. It's

disappointing, but it never should have come down to that."

All-Star Brad Miller scored 21 points in a series-high 44

minutes for the Kings, who advanced to a probable second-round

meeting with the top-seeded Timberwolves. Minnesota, which could

close out Denver on Friday night, was the only opponent to win two

games in Sacramento this season.

After three games mostly dominated by defense and bad shooting,

the NBA's two highest-scoring teams went back to the form they

showed in the 221-point series opener. It was easily the

highest-scoring game in the playoffs this season, with both teams

reaching 100 points early in the fourth quarter and never letting


"That's the game we were waiting for between these two teams,"

Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We just kept coming back and

coming back and staying with it. I thought Dallas played a great

series. It really could have gone the other way."

Rookie Marquis Daniels scored 19 points for the Mavericks, whose

entertaining nucleus might have played together for the last time.

Nash is expected to opt out of his contract to become a free agent,

and Cuban can't be satisfied by a first-round exit for his

highly-paid team.

Coach Don Nelson, whose future is up in the air, wanted a foul

called against Stojakovic on the final play.

"We should be going home to play another good basketball

game," he said. "Instead, we're going home and playing nobody for

a very long time."

The Kings knocked out the Mavs for the second time in three

seasons. Dallas beat Sacramento in seven games in last spring's


"I don't know if we need to change personnel or change our

identity in some way, but we've got to get better on defense,"

Nash said.

Showing off his celebratory bigfoot walk after nearly every big

basket, Bibby scored 16 points in the second quarter, making nine

straight shots altogether. He added 12 in the fourth to polish his

playoff reputation and win a compelling duel with Nash, who had 24

points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.

The Mavericks opened with the appropriate desperation for a

do-or-die game. They led 15-2 before most fans had settled into

their seats, eventually scoring 37 points in the first quarter.

But once Bibby got going, the lead evaporated quickly. The Kings

made their run with reserves Miller, Darius Songaila and Anthony

Peeler playing most of the minutes, while Webber didn't even get on

the court in the second quarter.

Game notes
The Kings won a playoff series for the fourth straight

season -- the longest streak in the history of a franchise that

began life as the Rochester Royals. ... After struggling at the

free throw line in Game 4, Dallas was 18-of-18. ... Vlade Divac,

whose minutes and confidence have declined in the last two months,

missed two layups in the first four minutes and never played again.

... Raiders defensive lineman Warren Sapp sat courtside. Actor Mark

Wahlberg wore a Kings cap several seats down the row.