Kings push past Wolves

Posted: Monday, May 17, 2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif. The second-round series between Sacramento and Minnesota is becoming as much about bad tempers as it is great basketball.

Chris Webber guaranteed a Game 7, and the Sacramento star got all kinds of help in making it happen even teammate Anthony Peeler's ejection for throwing elbows at league MVP Kevin Garnett had the Kings feeling good.

Mike Bibby had 16 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals despite foul trouble and the energetic Kings used an inspired effort on both ends of the floor to survive elimination, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-87 in Game 6 Sunday.

The deciding Game 7 is Wednesday night in Minneapolis.

''Right now is the time we all dreamed about: Game 7,'' Webber said. ''We're ready. ... I'm very confident, but no more predictions.''

Peja Stojakovic finally found his shot, scoring 22 points and swishing a long 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer that gave Sacramento the momentum in another testy affair between these teams. Webber had 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

The Kings haven't won a Game 7 on the road since they were based in Kansas City and beat Phoenix in 1981.

''The good thing is, we've been in this situation before,'' Webber said. ''So I feel comfortable going into it.''

Doug Christie had 16 points and sparked a strong defensive effort against league MVP Kevin Garnett and company, and Sacramento just plain outhustled the Wolves to loose balls and rebounds.

Latrell Sprewell scored 27 points and Garnett added 19, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Timberwolves, who are trying to reach their first Western Conference finals. Sam Cassell scored 16 points before fouling out with 2:32 left, and he was hit with a technical afterward for arguing. Cassell had to be held back from an official by teammate Ervin Johnson.

The Kings were fired up from the start, jumping out to a big lead early and calmly weathering a 17-0 run by Minnesota late in the first quarter. After losing to Minnesota at Arco Arena in three straight games this season including 114-113 in OT in Game 3 Sacramento has won its last two at home to stay in the series.

Peeler was ejected with 13.5 seconds left in the third after throwing an elbow at Garnett. Peeler, who claimed Garnett tried to hit him in the throat, had also elbowed Garnett on the previous possession, then Garnett stuck his elbow into Peeler's chest when the Kings came down on offense late in the third quarter.

Garnett also received a technical and went to the bench. The fans then started throwing glow sticks used for pregame festivities onto the court.

Pistons 81, Nets 75

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Richard Hamilton pump-faked Jason Kidd off his feet and drilled a clutch 18-footer with 15.5 seconds remaining, capping a 24-point performance that kept the season alive for the Detroit Pistons.

Hamilton's shot, Ben Wallace's rebounding and the Pistons refusal to quit added up to an 81-75 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Sunday night, evening their Eastern Conference semifinal series at three games apiece.

After two blowout victories and one close win for each team, the series will be decided on the Pistons' home court. Game 7 is Thursday night, the winner advancing to the Eastern Conference finals beginning next Saturday.

New Jersey will be looking to make it there for the third straight year, while Detroit will try to get there for the second consecutive season.

Hamilton was the most productive member of Detroit's offense for the second time in three games, the Pistons choosing to attack whichever player Kidd was defending.

His final shot capped an 11-for-24 performance that also included five rebounds and four assists. Rasheed Wallace added 14 points, Ben Wallace grabbed 20 rebounds all in the first three quarters and Chauncey Billups added 11 to lead an otherwise anemic Pistons offense.

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