Kings answer bell in Game 3

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2002

DALLAS -- Thousands of cowbells and a couple of ankle injuries weren't enough to slow down the Sacramento Kings.

Mike Bibby scored 29 points and Doug Christie returned from a sprained ankle to score 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as Sacramento beat the Dallas Mavericks 125-119 Thursday night.

The Kings, who lost second-leading scorer Peja Stojakovic to a sprained ankle in the third quarter, took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals. Game 4 is Saturday in Dallas.

''To me the biggest thing was winning this game. We couldn't go down 2-1,'' said Kings forward Chris Webber, who finished with 31 points and 15 rebounds.

Along with Webber's inside presence, Vlade Divac added 19 points and 13 rebounds to help the Kings add a little muscle to the matchup of the league's two highest-scoring teams.

''We worked the last couple of days on getting it inside and it worked tonight,'' Divac said.

Michael Finley had 37 points for Dallas, while Raef LaFrentz added 24 points and 13 rebounds.

The Kings rode Bibby's hot shooting to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, then leaned on Christie who provided several key baskets and solid defense during a 14-4 run midway through the fourth quarter that gave Sacramento a 105-97 lead.

Bibby and Christie continually silenced the capacity crowd of 20,265 in the American Airlines Center, many of whom came armed with cowbells, kazoos and various plastic noisemakers distributed by the team.

"(Bibby) was unbelievable. He made big plays for us all night,'' Kings coach Rick Adelman said. ''I was worried that he would run out of gas, but that's Mike. He's a competitor.''

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban encouraged fans to bring all sorts of noisemakers in response to Sacramento fans clanging cowbells behind Dallas' bench during the first two games of the series.

Just before Thursday's game, about 500 cowbells were distributed by a local company to people sitting in the seats behind the Kings' bench.

The cacophony began about an hour before tipoff and continued throughout the game.

It didn't seem to bother the Kings much.

''I have fun in situations like that,'' said Bibby, who was 5-for-5 from 3-point range. ''Them being loud and rowdy got me going. You can't play in a better atmosphere.''

They were more worried about Christie, their top defensive player, who sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and had to be carried to the locker room. The team said he would not return to the game. But when Stojakovic was injured with 5:09 left in the third quarter and also had to be carried off the court, Christie returned with less than a minute left in the quarter.

Stojakovic didn't return but Christie took over.

''When those two guys are both out, we got real thin,'' Adelman said. ''I just hoped we had enough energy, but when Doug came back -- that was huge.''

Hornets 115, Nets 97

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- David Wesley shook off a head-to-head collision with Jason Kidd to score 22 points and give Charlotte an emotional spark in a victory over the New Jersey Nets.

Baron Davis scored 26 points, Jamaal Magloire added 16 points and six blocked shots, and George Lynch had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Hornets, who trail the Nets 2-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 4 is Sunday in Charlotte.

Kidd, who needed stitches to close a gash over his left eye following the collision late in the first half, scored 13 points. He played just five minutes and scored just four points after smacking his head. Wesley remained on the court for several minutes after they hit then had to be helped to the locker room.

Richard Jefferson led the Nets with 16 points.



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