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Kings Turn It Around Quickly

Playing 24 hours after excruciating Game 3 loss, they rebound to beat Dallas, 99-83, and tie series.

May 12, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — And what was their reward after the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks produced a dramatically compelling, physically exhausting, emotionally draining double-overtime shootout Saturday night in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series?

How about Game 4, no less pivotal, only 24 hours later?

The schedule demanded it, so the Kings and Mavericks were back in each other's faces again Sunday night in front of 17,317 in Arco Arena, the Kings easing the disappointment of Saturday's loss with a dominating 99-83 victory.

This time, the Kings didn't wither down the stretch.

This time, they didn't miss scoring leader Chris Webber.

This time, they didn't disappoint a boisterous, towel-waving crowd, which realized it could have been watching its heroes for the last time this season.

This time, they closed the deal.

With Hedo Turkoglu scoring 17 points and Vlade Divac getting 16 points and nine rebounds, Peja Stojakovic 15 points and 12 rebounds and Doug Christie 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, the Kings tied the series at 2-2.

"I think we came back today with more energy than Dallas did," Divac said. "That was a big plus for us. It was very disappointing last night, but I'm glad we had back-to-back games. It feels much better now that we won."

The Mavericks, who could have put themselves in position to wrap up the series Tuesday night at Dallas, instead guaranteed themselves a return trip to Sacramento for Game 6 on Thursday. They scored as many points in the full 48 minutes as they had in the first half of their 132-110 victory in Game 2.

Raja Bell and Michael Finley each scored 16 for the Mavericks.

Last week, when it was announced the Kings and Mavericks would play on consecutive nights, a playoff rarity, the Mavericks' owner, Mark Cuban, ridiculed the schedule-maker.

"What moron set that up?" he said. "Back to back? They can't be that stupid. Someone in the NBA office ought to be fired."

After Saturday night's thriller, in which the Mavericks earned a 141-137 victory in part by overcoming a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit, Cuban said he was so exhilarated that he stayed up all night to watch the television replay.

"If anybody writes that we have no heart or no toughness," he said, addressing the Mavericks' reputation, "I'll personally kick their butt."

Coach Don Nelson, meanwhile, looked ahead to Game 4.

While acknowledging that the previous night's game had been memorable, he said, "I don't live in the past. I don't think it's a good idea. My motto is: Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery, what are you doing today?"

What the Kings were doing was trying to forget Game 3.

One day after learning that Webber, their best player, probably would be sidelined through the playoffs because of a knee injury, they had summoned a spirited performance, led through most of the game ... and lost.

As they had in Game 3, when they started fast before faltering in the closing minutes of regulation, the Kings fed off the crowd's energy Sunday and jumped out to an early lead, building it to 16 points in the second quarter.

At halftime, the score was 52-37 and the Mavericks looked lost. They were sluggish, out of sync and couldn't shoot straight.

Dirk Nowitzki and Nick Van Exel, who between them had dropped 65 points on the Kings in Game 3, were a combined 0 for 10 in the first half as the Mavericks made only 36% of their shots.

Nowitzki finished with 16 points, Van Exel only five.

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