2001 NBA Finals

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Momentum swing

Suns blow 19-point lead as Kings advance

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Posted: Thursday May 03, 2001 1:36 AM
Updated: Thursday May 03, 2001 8:20 AM
  Despite the Suns' best efforts, Peja Stojakovic scored a career playoff-high 37 points. AP

PHOENIX (AP) -- The comeback Kings did it again, and they're headed to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

Sacramento, down by 19 early in the second quarter, missed 22 consecutive shots, went more than 12 minutes without a field goal in the first half and still beat the Phoenix Suns 89-82 Wednesday night to win the best-of-five Western Conference series 3-1.

"These guys never cease to amaze me," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "All year long, we've been like that."

Peja Stojakovic, the only offense Sacramento had much of the night, scored a career playoff-high 37 points, including 14-of-14 free throws. He was just two short of his career high in any NBA game.

"It was a great game, a great feeling for me," said Stojakovic, who clearly got the best of his matchup with fellow second-year forward Shawn Marion. "It's great for the team, for the organization, to go to the second round for the first time in 20 years."

The Kings, who rallied from 17 down to win Game 3 and came from 28 points behind to win at Phoenix in the regular season, advance to a second-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is Sunday in Los Angeles.

Kings at Suns
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The Kings collide with the Suns in Phoenix and finish on top, despite shooting just 35 percent from the field.Start
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"With the offensive people we've got, they make a couple of turnovers and miss a couple of shots, before you know it we've scored eight straight points," Adelman said. "It happens so quickly it catches people by surprise sometimes, because we don't stop coming at people."

The Kings hadn't won a playoff series since 1981, when they were in Kansas City.

Chris Webber, who missed his first 11 shots and was just 7-for-27 from the field, scored 15, including a crucial 10-foot bank shot with 1:38 to play, and grabbed 10 rebounds.

"This is by far, in my professional career, the best feeling I've ever had with a team," Webber said. "I'm just happy. I feel like I went 11-for-11."

Stojakovic was in perpetual motion, launching a jumper when given even the slightest opening.

"There is nobody who can light it up like Peja in our league," Adelman said. "He's the best shooter I've ever seen. You can't give him room. You just can't relax."

Scot Pollard, a Suns' nemesis throughout the series, had six points and 13 rebounds. His only field goal was a short hook shot that put Sacramento ahead 82-78 with 1:13 remaining.

Doug Christie stole Jason Kidd's pass for a layup with 1:02 to play to give Sacramento an 84-78 lead.

Tony Delk's two free throws cut it to 84-80, but Kidd was called for a flagrant foul on Bobby Jackson's layup.

Jackson, who scored 10, made one of two free throws to put Sacramento ahead 85-80. The Kings had the ball, but Stojakovic's jumper went halfway down the basket and came out. However, Delk threw the ball away at the other end, and Stojakovic sank two free throws to clinch it with 23.4 seconds remaining.

Stojakovic made two more free throws just before the finish as the large contingent of Kings fans chanted "Beat L.A."

"The better team won this series," Phoenix head coach Scott Skiles said. "Tonight was similar to the last game. We played very hard. I can't fault my guys' effort. You've got to play hard, but you've got to play smart, too."

Cliff Robinson scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half for Phoenix. Kidd, playing despite a hip pointer, had 13 points and 14 assists but made just five of 16 shots.

"That's pretty much been the whole series for us," Kidd said. "We come out, and we can't maintain that intensity. We give up a big lead, and so when you do that, you're not supposed to win, and we don't deserve to win."

Shawn Marion scored 14 on 6-for-19 shooting, and Delk added 13. Rookie Jake Tsakalidis had six points and 12 rebounds.

"I'm just mad, disappointed, mad at myself," Marion said. "Our season is over. Nobody wanted it to be over with. I missed some shots. It's just real frustrating."

Neither team shot well: Sacramento just 35 percent and Phoenix 36 percent.

The Kings hadn't led since 8-7 until an 11-0 run put them up 74-68 on Stojakovic's 10-footer from the baseline with 5:11 to play.

Sacramento's 0-for-22 stretch came during a 21-2 Suns run that put Phoenix up 34-15 on Delk's 16-footer with 8:35 left in the half.

Stojakovic's 3-pointer had tied it at 13 with 7:27 left in the first quarter. The Kings didn't get another field goal until Stojakovic's turnaround 11-footer cut the lead to 34-17 with 7:14 to go in the half.

Notes: The Suns were knocked out in the first round for the fifth time in six years. ... Kidd, named to the NBA all-defensive first team Wednesday, was matched up against Christie, all-defensive second team. ... Robinson scored Phoenix's first nine points, equaling his output in all of Game 3. ... The last time the Kings won a playoff series they were coached by Cotton Fitzsimmons, later the Phoenix head coach and now Suns senior executive vice president. ... Webber was 0-for-8 from the field and drew two fouls in the first quarter. ... Marion was 10-for-34 in his last two games.

Related information
Kings crown Suns 104-96 to gain series edge
Christie proves crucial to Kings' success
Game Summary: Kings-Suns
Sacramento's Chris Webber puts the win into perspective and credits his head coach's valuable experience. (160 K)
Suns head coach Scott Skiles believes his team lost control and fell apart. (171 K)
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