Silencing the crowd
Suns steal Game 1 from home-standing Kings
Updated: Monday April 23, 2001 8:07 AM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- To the Phoenix Suns, there's no sound more beautiful than 17,317 fans not cheering.
Shawn Marion scored 21 points and Jason Kidd had 18 points and 14 assists as Phoenix emerged from one of the NBA's toughest arenas with an 86-83 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday in the opener of their playoff series.
The Suns won the first game of a playoff series for the first time since 1997 by crippling the league's highest-scoring offense with tough defense and deliberate offensive schemes.
"Cliff [Robinson] made a statement in the last minute when the crowd was quiet," Marion said. "He turned to me and said, 'You don't hear them now, do you?' We were zoning them out, anyway."
Sacramento, which hasn't won a playoff series since moving to Northern California, was unprepared to play the Suns' style. The Kings lost for just the ninth time all season at ARCO Arena.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Sacramento.
Rogers scored 18 points and hit two big jumpers during a 10-2 Phoenix run late in the fourth quarter. The boisterous crowd was silenced by the sixth-seeded Suns, who broke open a close game by holding the Kings to 6-of-28 shooting in the fourth quarter.
"We had no choice but to play this way," Kidd said. "We made it as tough as possible on them. We had to make sure they didn't get comfortable in their style. It might have been ugly, but we thought it was fun to watch."
Rogers' 3-pointer with 2:54 left gave Phoenix an 85-76 lead, but the Kings scored the next seven points, pulling within 85-83 on Doug Christie's steal and dunk. Robinson missed a jumper with 12 seconds left, but Kidd emerged from a crowd of three Kings with an offensive rebound, then hit one of two free throws.
"All day, I'd been missing some rebounds," Kidd said. "Coach always told me to follow the ball, so I did, and it came back to me."
After a timeout, Williams inexplicably air-balled an off-balance 3-pointer with five seconds still on the clock. Rogers dribbled out the time as the demoralized Kings didn't even foul him.
"We didn't even come close to playing our style of basketball," Christie said. "They just had more flow than we did from the tipoff. We have to play our style, and we will on Wednesday."
Webber, clearly limited by his sore ankles, had 27 points and 15 rebounds as the Kings opened a playoff series at home for the first time in two decades with a dull, disorganized performance.
Webber, Divac and Stojakovic -- the Kings' starting frontcourt, which supposedly had a huge advantage on the undersized Suns -- was a combined 20-for-60 from the field. Marion, whose acrobatic leaping ability was on full display, shot 9-for-16 and blocked more shots (3) than Sacramento's front court (0).
Meanwhile, the Suns concentrated on their defense and relied on almost nothing except jumpers by Kidd, Rogers and Marion, who decisively outplayed Peja Stojakovic. Robinson added 16 points, also mostly from the perimeter, for the Suns.
Until Phoenix's late run, neither team led by more than seven points in a slow, deliberate game. Sacramento spent much of the game uncharacteristically trying to get the ball to Webber in the low post, with mostly negative results.
Webber went 12-of-32 from the field and missed at least a half-dozen easy hook shots. He often seemed unable to jump on his ankles, which he sprained during a late-season game in Dallas.
In front of a crowd decked out in a sea of giveaway white T-shirts, the Kings shot 34.8 percent and struggled to score even the simplest baskets. Webber made seven turnovers, while Divac was held to four points on 1-of-5 shooting after halftime.
Marion's 21 points were a career playoff-high, but more important, he got 10 rebounds and held Stojakovic to 13 points -- seven below his average -- on 5-of-17 shooting.
"Shawn did a great job, really great," Phoenix's Mario Elie said. "We told him to stay on Peja no matter what. We told him, 'If he goes to the bathroom, you stay on him.'"
Notes: The Suns and the Kansas City Kings met in the playoffs
three consecutive seasons from 1979-81, but this was their first postseason meeting since. ... In
time-honored Sacramento tradition, fans rang cowbells behind the
Suns' bench. ... Arco was filled with signs, from "2001: A Kings
Odyssey" to the more esoteric "Why Not Now?" ... The Kings made
their fifth postseason appearance in 16 years in Sacramento.