<
>

Sacramento rallies to avoid 3rd straight home loss

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Even the Sacramento Kings were
starting to believe the whispers saying they couldn't beat the
NBA's best teams -- until they notched a big win over the team that
usually plays them tougher than anybody.

Peja Stojakovic hit a season-high six 3-pointers, and Mike Bibby
scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half of the Kings' 86-81
victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night.

Stojakovic scored 28 points and Chris Webber had 14 points and
13 rebounds for the Kings, who snapped the Spurs' five-game winning
streak. Sacramento also avoided its first three-game home losing
streak since April 2000 with a gritty fourth-quarter performance
against the Spurs, who won three of their previous four in
Sacramento.

Though the Kings are in the thick of the Western Conference
playoff race, in second place in the Pacific Division behind
surprising Phoenix, they hadn't beaten a team with a winning record
since Nov. 26.

"We laughed about it after the game," said Webber, who also
had seven assists. "I told Brad (Miller), 'Maybe we're good now.'
... We heard that talk, but we don't believe it. It was a good win,
but it doesn't make us better than we were three hours ago."

Sacramento, which lost its previous two home games to Miami and
Golden State, led through most of the fourth before San Antonio
tied it on Brent Barry's 3-pointer with 4:42 left. Stojakovic
answered with a 3-pointer, and Miller then hit a desperate
22-footer as the shot clock expired with 2:49 to play.

San Antonio got back within 80-78 on Tim Duncan's three-point
play, but Webber hit a jumper with 1:10 left, and Manu Ginobili
missed two open 3-pointers in the final seconds.

"People talk about how we haven't done well against the better
teams, but we just played well all the way," Kings coach Rick
Adelman said. "(San Antonio) has just been killing people, so it
was just nice to see us rise to that."

Ginobili scored 18 points, but Tim Duncan got just six of his 14
points in the second half. Duncan, who finished with just two
points more than his season low, didn't score in the second half
until eight minutes remained, too often settling for jumpers and
passing to inaccurate teammates.

"I played so badly, I felt I drug the guys into a hole,"
Duncan said. "We didn't play our best. I got enough good looks,
(but) they just didn't go down."

The Spurs' weak perimeter shooting was obvious, with the
starting five shooting just 20-for-57. San Antonio also made just
nine of its 18 free throws.

"I thought Sac crowded (Duncan) real well," Spurs coach Gregg
Popovich said. "They did a good job of bringing guys at him. They
mixed things up real well. ... Holding Sac to 86 points, that's
tough to do. Our shooting and free throws betrayed us."

Rookie Kevin Martin had a season-high nine points in his most
impressive game yet for the Kings, highlighted by a remarkable
behind-the-back bounce pass between Barry's legs to Darius Songaila
for a layup with 8:32 to play.

"We're calling that beginner's luck," Martin said with a grin.

With top reserve Bobby Jackson probably lost for three more
months with torn ligaments in his wrist, Adelman has been forced to
use the untested youngsters on the end of his bench. Maurice Evans
has become a consistent defender and backup in the last two weeks --
and against the Spurs, Martin was a capable, charismatic player on
both ends of the court.

Martin, a first-round pick out of Western Carolina, hasn't
played much this season, but Adelman gave him a season-high 22
minutes against the Spurs. He punctuated his seven points in the
first half with a two-handed dunk in traffic with 1.3 seconds left.

He was just as good in the second half, stunning fans with his
pass through Barry's legs. Most of the Sacramento crowd couldn't
believe its eyes until the replay was shown on the overhead
scoreboard, causing raucous cheers.

Game notes
Webber made a season-high eight turnovers. ... Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich berated Ginobili through most of a second-quarter
timeout, getting in his starting guard's face before pulling him
from the game. ... Spurs F Tony Massenburg was booed when he
entered the game with eight seconds left in the first half. The
well-traveled Massenburg spent last season with the Kings, but left
town with harsh words for the organization after he was left off
the playoff roster. ... Cubs manager Dusty Baker attended with his
father, a season ticket holder.