Webber scores 28, Miller 20

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Every basket was a grind in the

Sacramento Kings' series-tying victory. Perhaps that's why Chris

Webber played so well. His last easy shot was some time last year.

Webber scored a playoff-high 28 points and Brad Miller added 20

to lead the Kings to an 87-81 victory over the Minnesota

Timberwolves on Wednesday night in Game 4 of their second-round


For the first extended period since his return from serious knee

surgery in February, Webber seemed downright comfortable. He made

his first six shots, played strong defense on Kevin Garnett and

added six points over the final 3:20, quashing the Timberwolves'

hopes for a third straight last-minute victory.

Webber is somewhere near half-strength, playing extensive

minutes on a painfully sore knee that could use much more recovery

time than it gets in the playoffs. He was humorless and untalkative

after the game -- but clearly satisfied by outplaying Garnett for

the first time in the series.

"I made up my mind tonight I was going to play my game, do what

they brought me here to do," Webber said. "At least I was going

to try to do it."

Game 5 is Friday night in Minnesota, where the clubs split the

first two games of the series. Game 6 is back in Sacramento on


Mike Bibby had 15 points and a playoff-best 12 assists for the

Kings, who increased their defensive intensity on cue. Webber again

played a role, verbally exhorting his teammates in several timeout


Coach Rick Adelman altered his substitution pattern to give

Webber more rest.

"He was getting open jumpers, and he was impressive," Adelman


The game was nearly the opposite of Minnesota's thrilling

114-113 overtime win two nights earlier. Both teams struggled to

make easy shots and committed countless boneheaded turnovers, but

Sacramento never trailed after the opening four minutes.

"Maybe they were a little relaxed," Miller said. "Maybe they

were just happy about getting home court back. We just have to do

what we have to do to finish."

Garnett had 19 points and 21 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who

made 24 turnovers while losing in Sacramento for the first time in

four games this season. Minnesota's Big Three -- Garnett, Latrell

Sprewell and Sam Cassell -- combined to shoot 17-for-48.

The Timberwolves fled their locker room en masse before the

media arrived.

"(The loss) had to do with us not taking care of the

basketball," said Sprewell, the only Minnesota player in the

interview room. "Webb came out really aggressive tonight. He did

exactly what he had to do to help this team win tonight. We knew

they were going to put up a serious fight. They didn't want to go

back to Minnesota down 3-1."

Peja Stojakovic, the NBA's second-leading scorer in the regular

season, had yet another terrible shooting game, missing eight of

his first nine shots and rarely asserting himself in the Kings'

offense. Stojakovic, Bibby and Doug Christie combined to shoot

7-for-31, getting just one basket in the fourth quarter.

But Webber carried the Kings. Though most of his points came

from the outside to draw Garnett away from the paint, he played

strong defense, grabbed eight rebounds and also got a dramatic dunk

in the final minutes.

With the Kings' victory, all four of the second-round playoff

series are tied at two games apiece -- but only this series featured

any road wins.

Led by Webber's outside shooting and strong team defense, the

Kings jumped to a 17-point lead in the first half. But nothing is

easy in this series: Minnesota quickly made a 19-6 run that

included 11 straight points, and the Wolves briefly tied it late in

the third quarter.

Bibby made up for his 4-for-12 shooting with his best playmaking

of the series despite Sprewell's defense. He also hit all six of

his free throws, leading Sacramento's 22-of-25 performance from the


Cassell had 15 points and six assists for the Timberwolves,

while Sprewell had 13 points. The rest of the roster managed just

34 points.

"We had a lot of unforced turnovers," coach Flip Saunders

said. "We just made bad decisions. We were doing things I hadn't

seen in a long time."

Game notes
The drawstring on Garnett's shorts came loose during a play

midway through the first quarter. He held up his shorts with one

hand and played defense with the other, but Webber hit a jumper

over him. ... Stojakovic was fouled hard on a long jumper late in

the second quarter -- but the shot banked in anyway. When Stojakovic

returned to the bench with a smirk on his face, Vlade Divac said:

"If it won't go the easy way, it's got to go the hard way." ...

After the game, fans serenaded Bibby with an impromptu rendition of

"Happy Birthday." Bibby turns 26 Thursday.