Kings' OT win has Mavs on brink

Bibby's shot with :12.2 left, Jackson's late play earn 3-1 series lead, 115-113


DALLAS - Sacramento's Mike Bibby stared at a tall, moving maze in front of him yesterday with the game tied and his options fading faster than the shot clock.

No Chris Webber for the final 10 minutes. No Vlade Divac for the final four. No Peja Stojakovic, either; the All-Star swingman's ankle is sprained and he will miss the rest of this Western Conference semifinal series. And no discernible way the Kings could pry a thriller from the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Michael Finley, on the road, in a ridiculously loud building.

But, as Hedo Turkoglu, the Kings' Turkish reserve, said: "With this team, you cannot say, `No way.' Too much good players coming off the bench and already in the game."

Bibby, the Kings' 6-foot-1 point guard, crossed up and churned past Finley, the longer and more agile Mavericks guard, on the baseline with 15 seconds remaining. Rising over the 7-foot Nowitzki, he switched the ball from his left hand to his right and flicked it into the net with 12.2 seconds left.

The layup made the American Airlines Center's largest crowd of 20,274 go dead quiet and the Mavericks go down hard, 115-113 in overtime, in Game 4 of this best-of-seven-game series. The Kings lead the series 3-1.

"If I didn't shoot, I was going to pass," Bibby said. "Somebody would have an open shot. But no one came at me."

Injury and a rowdy crowd had conspired against the Kings, not to mention foul problems.

But Nowitzki's driving layup with 2.7 seconds left rimmed out, the noise subsided, and suddenly the Kings were sitting pretty. Game 5 is tomorrow at Arco Arena, where the Kings had an NBA-best 36-5 home record this season. Dallas, however, won three of four there.

"We know we can win there; we've done it three times this year," Mavericks coach Don Nelson said. "We'll give it our best shot."

The Mavericks doomed themselves as much as the Kings did, giving back a 12-point lead in the last 11 minutes of regulation.

Nowitzki led all scorers with 31 points and added 12 rebounds and seven assists. But his missed layup in overtime and an off-target free throw with 39.5 seconds to go in regulation kept Dallas from tying the series.

Bibby hit a driving layup to force overtime with 31.7 seconds left, about five minutes after Webber (30 points, 10 rebounds) had huddled the players on the floor after he fouled out while falling for a simple Nowitzki fake on the perimeter. He told every role player he believed in them, and Doug Christie and Bobby Jackson listened intensely.

Bibby finished with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists, but it was a 15-point fourth quarter by Jackson that set up the ending. He finished with 26 points and five assists, scoring 13 points on a buffet of long, well-defended jumpers in less than four minutes midway through the final period.

"Probably coming into the series, I would think we would have had the advantage," said Dallas guard Nick Van Exel. "I would say Nash and Bibby are playing about equal, but Bobby Jackson, that guy, he kicked my butt."

Christie (12 points, six steals) thwarted Nash, who finished with nine turnovers to go with his 24 points and six assists.

"Last year we would have lost that game by one point," Webber said. "A technical foul, a turnover, something would have happened."

"We were in a good position to win all night long," said Nowitzki, who missed 19 of the 28 shots he took. "We pretty much got what we wanted. We got both of their big guys to foul out. But we couldn't capitalize. It's a tough loss, and I still can't believe we lost this game."

Kings coach Rick Adelman haphazardly cut and pasted a roster together that somehow became a beautiful collage. Jackson started for the injured Stojakovic, who will miss at least this series and maybe the Western Conference finals should the Kings advance. He gave Turkoglu and Scot Pollard key minutes and even used Lawrence Funderburke and Gerald Wallace in the first half.

"We don't go away," said Divac, the Kings' All-Star center. "Never. This team never goes away."

Sacramento 25 26 31 27 6 - 115

Dallas 27 27 35 20 4 - 113

SACRAMENTO-Webber 12-15 6-9 30, Christie 3-10 6-7 12, Divac 1-5 6-8 8, Bibby 9-20 4-4 24, Jackson 10-20 4-6 26, Pollard 3-5 3-4 9, Turkoglu 2-8 0-0 4, Wallace 0-0 2-2 2, Funderburke 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 40-84 31-40 115. DALLAS-Finley 10-24 4-4 28, Nowitzki 9-28 12-14 31, LaFrentz 5-11 0-0 12, Nash 7-11 8-8 24, Van Exel 2-10 0-0 4, Buckner 3-5 0-0 6, Najera 1-1 0-0 2, Griffin 2-2 0-0 4, Bradley 0-0 0-0 0, Wang 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 40-93 24-26 113. 3-point goals - Sacramento 4-15 (Jackson 2-2, Bibby 2-7, Turkoglu 0-2, Christie 0-4), Dallas 9-23 (Finley 4-9, Nash 2-2, LaFrentz 2-4, Nowitzki 1-5, Van Exel 0-3). Fouled out - Webber, Divac. Rebounds - Sacramento 62 (Divac 14), Dallas 46 (Nowitzki 12). Assists - Sacramento 19 (Jackson 5), Dallas 22 (Nowitzki 7). Total fouls - Sacramento 24, Dallas 26. Technicals-Webber, Sacramento coach Adelman, Divac, Christie, Dallas coach Don.Nelson. A - 20,274 (19,200).

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