Kings for a night
Sacramento stuns Jazz again for 1st home playoff win
Posted: Thursday May 13, 1999 08:33 AM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Sacramento's Vlade Divac blew kisses to the crowd after a 3-pointer. Teammate Jason Williams mugged for the cameras after a flashy assist. And the upstart Sacramento Kings pushed Utah to the brink of elimination.
Divac, his left eyebrow stitched and bandaged, hit two key shots in the final 47 seconds of overtime as the Kings defeated the Jazz 84-81 Wednesday night to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five first-round playoff series. The Kings can wrap up the series with a win at home Friday night.
"Tonight there was pressure on us. We didn't want to lose on our home court," Divac said. "It's a lot of pressure on them now. But I'm sure they know how to handle it."
Divac's two jump-hooks gave Sacramento, which had never before won a home playoff game, an 83-81 lead with 22 seconds remaining in overtime. Todd Fuller missed two potentially tying free throws for Utah with 4.2 seconds left, and John Stockton missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Divac had 22 points and Corliss Williamson added 18 for the Kings, who had not won a home playoff game since 1981 -- when they were based in Kansas City.
Divac, a Serb who sleeps little at night because he fears for his family's safety in Yugoslavia during the NATO bombing, said the basketball court is the only place he can forget his concerns.
"It's the only place for me to have fun," he said. "Being here saves my soul."
Karl Malone scored 14 of his 22 points for Utah in the fourth quarter and overtime of a brutally physical game in which Divac was cut in the fourth quarter while diving for a ball. He needed three stitches to close the gash.
"It was an ugly, gutted-out, dirty win," said Sacramento guard Jon Barry, who was called for a flagrant foul in the second quarter. "But we'll take it." Howard Eisley had 21 points and Shandon Anderson added 17 for the Jazz, who trailed by 16 points in the second period. But Stockton was held to five points on 1-of-9 shooting.
The starting Sacramento backcourt of Williams and Tariq Abdul-Wahad, both playing in their first playoff series, outplayed the Utah backcourt of Stockton and Jeff Hornacek -- who have played in a combined 272 playoff games. Hornacek was held to four points on 1-of-6 shooting.
"They did a great job defensively on our backcourt," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "They are bigger, stronger and obviously younger."
Leading 41-37 at halftime, the Kings maintained their lead throughout a scrappy third period that featured Stockton shoving Divac during a stoppage in play and several scrums as players fought for loose balls.
Divac's 3-pointer from the top of the key, which he celebrated with kisses, gave the Kings a 50-40 lead with 8:24 remaining in the third period.
A 3-pointer by Anderson pulled the Jazz within 56-53 with 3:30< left in the quarter, but Williams responded with a bullet pass to Williamson for a layup and feigned a look of disbelief for the cameras.
Sacramento led 60-56 entering the fourth quarter, but the Jazz tied the game at 68 with 6:12 left on two straight layups by Malone. A few seconds later, Divac was cut when Stockton's arm hit him in the face as both dived for a loose ball.
Utah built a 75-71 lead on six straight points by Malone, but Williams hit a jumper and Divac hit four free throws in the final minute of regulation time as the game went into overtime tied 77-77.
"We ran into a team that's hungry. They haven't been in the playoffs in a long time," Anderson said. "We dug ourselves a hole the last two games. You lose a lot of energy trying to come back."
The Kings began the game at a frenetic pace, turning an early 5-0 deficit into a 15-7 lead as the Jazz went 6:03 without a basket. Utah was missing Malone, who got his second foul 4:11 into the game, for most of that drought.
Sacramento built its lead to 13 points late in the first quarter while hitting 11 of its first 16 shots, and held a 28-17 lead at the end of the period. The veteran-laden Jazz seemed stunned, even allowing the Kings an alley-oop dunk off an inbounds play.
The Kings stretched their lead to 37-21 on a reverse layup by Chris Webber with 7:22 left in the first half, and Malone went to the bench again with his third foul with 3:12 left before halftime.
But the Jazz, with only one starter on the floor, finished the half with a 16-4 run to pull within four points at halftime. Malone missed all six of his shots in the first half and had just two points at halftime.
Notes: Earlier Wednesday, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the Kings by Jim Thomas to the Maloof family, which owned the Houston Rockets in the late 1970s and early 1980s. ... The teams played three overtime games during the regular season. ... Webber fouled out in overtime.
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