Youth gone wild
Utah's experience proving no match to younger Kings
Posted: Thursday May 13, 1999 10:01 PM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- They came into the playoff series with a huge edge in experience. The past two games, though, that has meant little.
Utah's venerable, old backcourt of John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek, which has led the Jazz to two straight NBA Finals, is looking just plain old against Sacramento's young tandem of Jason Williams and Tariq Abdul-Wahad.
Williams and Abdul-Wahad, appearing in their first playoff series, outplayed and outscored their counterparts as the Kings defeated the Jazz 84-81 in overtime Wednesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 series.
"They did a great job defensively on our backcourt," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "They are bigger, stronger and, obviously, younger."
The Kings, who won a home playoff game for the first time since moving to Sacramento in 1985, can wrap up the first-round series with a victory at home Friday night. After losing by 30 points in Game 1, the Kings have won two straight.
Williams had 12 points, six assists and matched his career high with eight rebounds Wednesday night, while Abdul-Wahad had six points and helped hold Hornacek to four points on 1-of-6 shooting. Stockton scored five points, going 1-for-9 from the field.
"At some point, when we started losing games, we knew [age] was going to become an issue," Hornacek said before practice Thursday. "Right now, they're freewheeling it. We had the opportunity in Game 2 to knock their confidence down, and we didn't do it."
Stockton has 2,082 points in 150 playoff games and Hornacek has 1,871 points in 122 postseason contests. Williams and Abdul-Wahad each has played in three playoff games.
"You can't deny facts. We are older than them," Stockton said. "But is it a factor in the game? I don't think so. I certainly don't feel that."
The Kings, not surprisingly, tried to avoid playing the age card Thursday and instead focused on the ability of veterans such as Stockton, Hornacek and Karl Malone to find ways to rebound from playoff deficits.
"I would never count out Stockton, Malone and Hornacek. They scare me to death for tomorrow night," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said.
Sloan said Stockton has not fully recovered from a flagrant foul in the opening seconds of Game 2 by Chris Webber, who lowered his shoulder and dropped Stockton to the court. Stockton said he's feeling fine, but the coach has his doubts.
"John Stockton's not the same person after he got hit. Physically," said Sloan, who added he was more concerned with the play of his big men than that of his starting backcourt.
"We've got a lot of soft players. Soft play at this time of the year sends you home," Sloan said. "I think the fire's still there with a lot of our guys. But I don't know if that's true for all of them."
Williams said he sees no difference in Stockton's play.
"He's still the same Stockton to me, he's still a great player," the rookie point guard said. "Maybe he's different toward Web, but he's the same toward me."
And Adelman said the only difference is that Stockton has missed some shots in the past two games that he normally makes.
"I can't believe it [Webber's flagrant foul] bothered him, he's too tough," the Kings coach said. "Whenever he gets knocked down, he gets up. I think he's going to get up tomorrow night."
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