2001 NBA Finals

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Game plan

Kings say they'll use similar strategy on Tuesday

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Posted: Monday May 07, 2001 11:24 PM
Updated: Tuesday May 08, 2001 2:01 PM
  Horace Grant, Chris Webber, Scot Pollard Chris Webber (center) scored a team-high 34 in Game 1 against the Lakers -- but his Kings came up just short. Jeff Gross/Allsport

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings seemed a confident bunch Monday, and they don't appear to have too many strategical changes in mind for the Los Angeles Lakers.

And that includes the way they defend Shaquille O'Neal, who had 44 points, 21 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the Lakers' 108-105 victory in Sunday's opener of their second-round playoff series.

"He had to step up his game incredibly to get the win, which he did," said Sacramento's Chris Webber, who had a career playoff-high 34 points in a losing cause. "The rest of their team is going to have to step up at some time in the series."

O'Neal and his teammates expressed the opinion that the massive Lakers center wasn't given the defensive attention he's usually given in Game 1, certainly a questionable strategy against the NBA's defending champions.

"It really doesn't matter if they double and triple me," O'Neal said Monday. "I'll look for my teammates.

"The thing is, I'm on a mission to do what we did last year as a team. They fouled me one time, and it wasn't called. That made me mad, and when I get mad, it's all over."

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Chris Webber and the Kings know they've got their hands full with Shaq and the Lakers. Launch
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The Kings simply believe they can do a better job in several areas, including their defense on O'Neal.

"Yeah, probably," Sacramento center Vlade Divac said when asked if he'll play O'Neal straight up in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series Tuesday night at Staples Center. "He's going to score his 30, 40 points.

"If we do have to make little adjustments, not about Shaq. We have to set better screens."

Scot Pollard, Divac's backup, said the Kings don't want to lose sight of O'Neal's teammates.

"He had a great game yesterday; partially it's because Vlade and I are big guys and he made us look like little guys," Pollard said. "There is no one player in the league who can stop him.

"We just need a couple more dig-downs, the guard digging down on him, to make him think about it, make him think about his move. He got a couple easy dunks when the ball came into his hands."

Eleven of O'Neal's 21 rebounds came at the offensive end, and many didn't just come into his hands.

"We've got to put a body on him," Pollard said.

Kings coach Rick Adelman said his team was "too inactive, too passive," in defending O'Neal.

"We were allowing him quick position," Adelman said. "Once he got it, it was over. Even when he didn't get great position, we were allowing him room to operate.

"We can play a lot better, let's put it that way. We were right in the game, it's not like we lost by 30."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he couldn't comment on what the Kings were going to do, but added: "When they allow our two primary scorers to get as many points as they did, they're going to try to limit that."

O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, who scored 29 points, combined to score 73 of their team's 108 points.

"They'd better," Bryant said when asked if he thought the Kings would double-team O'Neal. "But Shaq was double-teamed a lot during the season and we learned how to deal with it.

"Portland double-teamed him the whole series and we swept it. So it's a matter of picking your poison."

Jackson said he believes the Kings would attempt to get more offensive production from Peja Stojakovic, who was only 6-of-18 in scoring 20 points in Game 1.

Stojakovic was hounded by Rick Fox, who played 45 minutes -- more than anyone else on either team.

"He did pretty much hold me," Stojakovic said, smiling at the double-meaning of his comment. "What is not called is not called.

"I have to keep doing what I'm doing, be aggressive. When I catch the ball, I have to make better decisions."

Stojakovic said the Kings have to react quicker when the ball goes into O'Neal.

"Shaq is so big, it's tough to stop him," Stojakovic said. "Sometimes he gets the ball so deep, it's impossible to help. We have to help our guys, make them a jump-shooting team.

"You have to push him as far as you can, go in the weight room today, get stronger."

The Lakers bring a 12-game winning streak -- eight to complete the regular season and four to begin the playoffs -- into Game 2.

Games 3 and 4 will be played in Sacramento on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

Related information
SI's Marty Burns: Lakers-Kings Breakdown
Lakers, Kings prepare for action, not words
Shaq powers Lakers past Kings for 1-0 lead
Kings head coach Rick Adelman says part of the game plan may include keeping Shaquille O'Neal off the free-throw line. (201 K)
Chris Webber is confident the Kings can shut down O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. (171 K)
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant is glad his team didn't let its guard down in Game 1. (130 K)
Lakers head coach Phil Jackson speculates about how the Kings might approach Game 2. (183 K)
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