Kings dress just nine players, but still win

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- "D.C. 13" was scrawled on Mike

Bibby's shoe, and Brad Miller wore one of Doug Christie's old wrist

bands on his calf.

From pregame warmups to the tense final minutes of a 109-100

victory over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, the Kings'

thoughts were decidedly melancholy a day after their longtime

teammate was traded to Orlando.

"It was an emotional day. We just couldn't believe it," said

Peja Stojakovic, who scored 27 points with Christie's initials and

uniform number also written on his shoe. "We're professionals and

we got a great win, but we're going to miss him. He's one of the

best teammates I've ever had."

The veteran guard was swapped for Cuttino Mobley and Michael

Bradley, stunning his teammates and leaving just nine players in

uniform when Chris Webber ruled himself out with a sore left knee.

Despite Christie's departure and their short bench, the Kings

hung together for an impressive win. Using zone defenses, good free

throw shooting and big contributions from role players, the Kings

played through the shock for their 17th straight home victory over


Bibby added 18 points for the Kings, who reacted to the trade of

their top defender with much the same ambivalence shown by the

Magic, who wore black armbands with Mobley's number in Boston on

Monday night.

"I couldn't get used to Doug not being out there yet," Bibby

said. "I was looking for him a couple of times. It's hard. We were

thinking about him."

Rookie Kevin Martin scored 11 of his career-high 17 points in

the second quarter for the Kings, who held off several late charges

by the Nuggets.

After trailing by 14, Denver tied it at 89 midway through the

fourth quarter, but Sacramento responded with a 15-5 run kicked off

by Stojakovic's 3-pointer. Bibby, Maurice Evans and Miller all made

big free throws down the stretch for the Kings, who haven't lost to

the Nuggets in Sacramento since Jan. 7, 1997.

"It's the same old story with all the games we've lost," said

Kenyon Martin, who scored 17 points for Denver. "I'm fed up with

it, fed up."

Andre Miller had 16 points and 11 assists for the Nuggets, who

lost their fifth straight and 11th in 12 games. With general

manager Kiki Vandeweghe watching with concern, the Nuggets dropped

to 1-5 under interim coach Michael Cooper by playing dismal defense

and repeatedly squandering chances to take the lead in the final

three quarters.

"We should have beaten them," Cooper said. "They didn't beat

us, we beat ourselves -- turning the ball over, not boxing out and

all the other little things."

The Nuggets had plenty of opportunities to finish off the weary

Kings, but showed none of the passion necessary to capitalize on

their talent advantage. Carmelo Anthony struggled, scoring 16

points on 4-of-14 shooting and often looking bored on defense.

"We've got to figure out as a whole how to win games," Anthony

said. "The last couple of games, we've been cutting the leads to

two points, and the other team has just been taking it away. We

came out fast, then slowed down. We've made some progress, but we

can't use that as an excuse."

After going 2-2 with a loss to New Orleans on a lackluster road

trip, Sacramento got major contributions from role players while

opening a stretch with seven of eight games at home.

Darius Songaila and Evans replaced Webber and Christie in the

starting lineup. Evans scored 14 points and made a breathtaking

alley-oop dunk on a half-court pass from Bibby, while Songaila

provided 12 points and tough defense before fouling out with 1:12

to play.

Kevin Martin -- the Kings' own K-Mart -- dominated the second

quarter with more of the seemingly effortless offensive game he has

shown since Bobby Jackson was sidelined with a wrist injury last

month. The rookie also went 9-for-11 on free throws, repeatedly

driving the lane against Anthony and Andre Miller.

Game notes
The clubs combined to shoot 38 free throws in the fourth

quarter, two shy of the Arco Arena record. ... Bibby turned his

ankle with 9:42 to play, briefly leaving Eddie House at point guard

during crunch time in his first game with the Kings. House,

acquired by Sacramento off waivers last week, went scoreless in 11