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Webber Is a Forward Thinker

June 02, 2002|Elliott Teaford

SACRAMENTO — Rather than bemoan a missed opportunity Friday in Game 6, King power forward Chris Webber embraced the notion of living out a childhood fantasy in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Lakers today at Arco Arena.

What, him worry?

"It's what we've all been dreaming about since we were little kids on the court acting like Magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Bird," Webber said on the eve of the deciding game of the best-of-seven series.

The Kings did not have a formal practice Saturday, but watched some videotape of their 106-102 loss to the Lakers in Game 6, hoping to find a way to deny Shaquille O'Neal the ball. O'Neal scored 41 points Friday.

They also listened to Coach Rick Adelman and General Manager Geoff Petrie give pep talks about winning Game 7 and advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1951, when the franchise was based in Rochester, N.Y.

Any lingering anger over their loss Friday slipped away by Saturday, according to Webber.

"For me, negative is not good," Webber said. "Intense, yes. Tense, no. It was good to come to practice today and watch film and listen to coach talk and get it all out of our systems."


The Lakers had a 40-25 edge in free throws in Game 6, including a 27-9 advantage in the fourth quarter. On further review, Adelman had only two objections to the officiating Friday.

Adelman disagreed with the foul against point guard Mike Bibby, who took an elbow from Kobe Bryant that bloodied his nose late in the game. He also believed O'Neal should have drawn a flagrant foul for his takedown on Lawrence Funderburke.

"Other than that ... ," Adelman said. "You've got to let it go. We'll have a different crew for Game 7. We're not playing the officials. We're playing the Lakers. I would question those two calls, though."

A more pressing concern for Adelman than the officiating was finding ways to keep O'Neal from receiving the ball so close to the basket, forcing the Kings to either foul him or allow him to take easy shots.

"You can't let him catch it where he wants to catch it," Adelman said of O'Neal, who made 14 of 25 shots, 13 of 17 free throws and fouled out Sacramento centers Vlade Divac and Scot Pollard in Game 6.

"He's too good. We have to have people around him. We need weak-side help. It was one of the main things we talked about, eliminating his easy catches. But give him credit. He's getting really aggressive."


The Sacramento Kings have never played a Game 7, but have played a winner-take-all Game 5 twice and lost both times. The Kings squandered a 2-1 series lead and lost the next two games to the Utah Jazz in the opening round of the 1999 playoffs. They also lost Game 5 to the Lakers in the first round in 2000.

The franchise's last Game 7 appearance was in 1981, when the team was based in Kansas City. Those Kings defeated the Suns in the conference semifinals at Phoenix. The Houston Rockets then eliminated the Kings in the conference finals, four games to one.

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