Kings on right road for Western Conference final


DALLAS, Reuters

The Sacramento Kings continued their excellent form on the road with a come-from-behind 115-113 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks in their Western Conference semifinal on Saturday.

Sacramento’s fourth road win of this year’s playoffs gave the top-seeded Kings a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game Five back in California on Monday.

Kings guard Mike Bibby capped a 24-point afternoon with a short shot over 7-foot forward Dirk Nowitzki with 12.2 seconds remaining in the five-minute overtime period to give Sacramento the decisive points.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world in him (Bibby),” said Sacramento forward Chris Webber. “I hope that people do start talking about him more, but if they don’t, that’s OK.”

“I knew if we ran a pick-and roll, they would switch, so I tried to go away from the screen,” Bibby said. “If I didn’t shoot, I was going to pass. Somebody would have an open shot, but nobody came at me.”

Until then it had been a frustrating extra period for the Kings, who dominated play only to miss 10 of their first 11 shots.

Dallas turned to Nowitzki, who had started slowly but picked up after the half to finish with a team best 31 points. However, his left-handed layup bounced out and the Mavericks were unable to produce another shot as time expired.

Dallas appeared to be in control when it turned a three-point half-time advantage into a 14-point bulge in the third quarter, their biggest lead. The Mavericks also led by as many as 12 points in the fourth.

But the Kings made it interesting in a hurry, using a 15-2 run to inch ahead 98-97 with just under six minutes on the clock.

Webber was fouled out with 401 to play. In foul trouble for most of the second half, he still managed a team-high 30 points, shooting 12-for-15 from the floor.

Webber apologized to his team mates, feeling he had let them down, but urged the players to keep fighting.

“Chris told us he messed up,” said Bibby. “Then he told us, ‘Now, go and get them.’”

Sacramento guard Bobby Jackson, who was replacing the injured Peja Stojakovic, helped pick up the slack. He was at his best late on when he accounted for most of his 26 points.

“You’re going to make shots and miss shots, but you’ve just got to continue to shoot when you have shots and just continue to play hard,” Jackson said.

“My shots started to fall. I was feeling good and my team mates were getting me the ball. That’s what it’s all about. They recognized that I was hot and they kept getting me the ball.”

Stojakovic sustained an injury to his right ankle in Game Three.

Jackson also made life difficult for Dallas playmaker Steve Nash, who was denied the ball on several key possessions. Nash did contribute 24 points, although many came from off-balance shots.

Michael Finley also had a good outing, scoring 28 points for the Mavericks.