Kings reign over Suns 116-90 to even series
Updated: Thursday April 26, 2001 8:20 AM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings are built for scoring, speed and style. They've decided to stick with their strengths in the playoffs.
With the league's most potent offense in devastating form, Peja Stojakovic scored 22 points and Jason Williams had 18 as the Kings evened their first-round playoff series with a 116-90 victory against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night in Game 2.
After a dismal, nervous performance during an 86-83 loss in Game 1, the Kings' coaches spent two days convincing the players to get back to the strengths of their team, instead of allowing the Suns to dictate the game's tempo. With all that clearly in mind, Sacramento cruised to a blowout victory.
"There was never a doubt in my mind this team would respond," Sacramento head coach Rick Adelman said. "We talked about getting back to the way we play. All we did was try to get a flow going. If we lose playing that way, then we're going to lose. But we're not going to lose walking the ball up the floor."
Led by inspired play from point guards Williams and Bobby Jackson, who made his first six shots and finished with 16 points, the Kings jumped to a 22-point first-half lead and never let up on the way to the franchise's biggest playoff win since April 7, 1951.
"Everybody gets open shots when we're moving the ball like that," Jackson said. "It feels great. We were pushing the ball and finally playing our style. We played extremely well."
Sacramento didn't even need much help from Chris Webber, who still had 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Game 3 is Sunday in Phoenix.
Seven Kings scored in double figures as Sacramento shot 57 percent in the first three quarters and made a number of breathtaking passes to incite the Arco Arena fans, who were mostly silent late in Sacramento's Game 1 loss, to deafening noise levels and several second-half standing ovations.
The Kings also clamped down on the Suns, who shot 32.6 percent and couldn't keep up. Tony Delk scored 14 points -- most well after the game was decided -- as Phoenix headed home to America West Arena with the chance to win the series by defending its house.
"I thought they played really loose, and once they got the lead, shots were a lot easier," Delk said. "When it was close Sunday, a lot of the shots they made tonight were missing. When the pressure is not on them, sure, it's easy to make shots."
With home-court advantage in a playoff series for the first time since 1981, the third-seeded Kings quickly gave it away with a series-opening loss Sunday. Sacramento didn't pass, didn't rebound and shot horribly while making the Suns look like unstoppable defenders.
From the opening tip in Game 2, Sacramento was back to its normal blend of tight passing and proficient shooting. After a strong first quarter, the Kings made a pair of 8-0 runs in the midst of a 25-8 surge that gave Sacramento a 22-point lead with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half.
"As a team, if you're not really sharp on the defensive end, they'll make you pay for it," Phoenix head coach Scott Skiles said.
The Kings put on a show as well. One minute, Doug Christie was making a no-look touch pass to Scot Pollard for a dunk. The next minute, Webber embarrassed Jake Tsakilidis by passing the ball to himself behind the befuddled rookie's back, then hitting Christie for an open jumper.
The Kings led 95-63 after three quarters, briefly stretched the lead to 34 points and then relaxed through the fourth.
Williams' regular season included more brushes with NBA discipline than outstanding games, but he was spectacular in Game 2. Wearing sparkling purple sneakers for the first time this season, Williams shot 7-for-11 and kept the Kings' offense moving while also playing strong defense.
Williams and Jackson hit two 3-pointers apiece and went a combined 13-for-18 from the field. Stojakovic also had an impressive game after being held to 5-of-17 shooting by Marion in Game 1, while Vlade Divac had 10 points and eight rebounds.
After the Kings' bumbling performance in Game 1, it was the Suns' turn to look bad. Phoenix shot 31 percent in the first half, missing dozens of open jumpers, and had nowhere near the same success controlling Sacramento's crisp passing.
Marion, Cliff Robinson, Jason Kidd and Rodney Rogers combined for 73 points in Game 1, but they shot a combined 10-for-42 on Wednesday night. Though six Suns finished in double figures, only Chris Dudley -- who went 1-for-1 -- shot better than 50 percent.
"We didn't play any defense, and we didn't make any shots -- that equals a blowout," Kidd said. "They had to come out and play well, and they did."
Notes: The Rochester Royals won the first game of the 1951 NBA championship series 92-65 against the New York Knickerbockers. The Royals -- who made stops in Cincinnati and Kansas City before moving to Sacramento -- won the franchise's only NBA championship that year. ... Kidd got an assist on each of the Suns' first five field goals, while Sacramento made seven turnovers in the first seven minutes. ... The Kings won't travel to Phoenix until Saturday afternoon.