Kings' 105-99 win puts Wizards in pinch

Wobbly playoff standing further shaken with loss

April 03, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Wizards coach Doug Collins often talks about the speed of the NBA game, and how things can change in five minutes. It took a whole lot less than that for Washington to see both its chances to beat the Sacramento Kings last night and perhaps of making the playoffs go up in smoke.

The Kings, arguably one of the three best teams in the league, crushed the Wizards in a flash to start the third quarter and then held on to beat Washington, 105-99, at MCI Center.

The Wizards missed their first six shots of the third quarter, and that was all the opening the Kings needed. Already leading by 13 points at the half, Sacramento used a pair of Peja Stojakovic layups, a wide-open 18-footer from Vlade Divac and a wide-open 19-footer from former Wizard Chris Webber on their first four possessions of the quarter. That forced Collins to call a timeout 1:48 into the period, with the Sacramento lead ballooning to 21.

The game, and quite possibly the season, was essentially over.

"We hadn't gotten out of the locker room yet. They started the game without us," Collins said of the Kings' 8-0 burst.

Said Michael Jordan: "The third quarter, we came out and they backdoored us and got easy baskets and got eight points really quick. The next thing you know, it went from [13 to 21]. When we realized we were 19 or 20 points down, I think the sense of urgency kicked in, and we fought back.

"We have to come out ready to play. We just can't give away the beginnings of halves and quarters."

With the Milwaukee Bucks beating the Houston Rockets, 106-99, the Wizards (34-40) now trail Milwaukee by two games in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with eight games to play. The Bucks have the tiebreaker edge over Washington, so the Wizards, in effect, trail Milwaukee by three games.

"We have a guy now announcing Milwaukee scores in the arena," said Collins of an MCI Center announcer. "We don't worry about Milwaukee. We just have to play our games and win. That's all we can do. I wonder if Milwaukee is announcing that we're behind in the Bradley Center. I doubt it."

Jerry Stackhouse had 27 points, hitting all 11 free throw attempts to lead five Washington players in double figures, with Kwame Brown chipping in 16 off the bench, along with six rebounds.

But the Wizards had no answer for Webber, who ripped his former team for 28 points, helping the Kings (54-22) to a 46-30 advantage in points in the paint. He also added nine rebounds and six assists.

The Wizards made a valiant charge in the fourth, slicing a 19-point deficit down to four in the final three minutes, but Webber hit an 18-footer with two minutes to go to quell the rally. Brown didn't aid the cause by missing three foul shots in the final minute.

"We were pushing the ball," said Stackhouse, who had 19 in the second half. "We finally got some things in transition. Kwame got it going for us in the post and we played off him. It's no secret: Whenever we get some presence like that on the inside, it frees up things for everybody. It's like you pick your poison.

"We got most of our stuff in transition, but when we have any type of miscue or we're playing up and down like that, they're a team that takes advantage of it."

The Wizards move on to Atlanta tonight, holding onto the slimmest of threads of hope.

"We just have to take it game by game," said Jordan, who scored 17 points in 42 minutes. "We win [tonight] and then we take it game by game. You never know what will happen. Anything can happen in the last eight games. You just have to have a positive outlook on things."

NOTES: Longtime Washington equipment manager Charlie Butler was released from a Denver hospital yesterday and is expected to return to the Washington area today. Butler, a Baltimore native, collapsed Sunday after the Wizards-Nuggets game from complications from a bleeding ulcer, a team official said.














Percentages: FG .483, FT .895. 3-Point Goals: 4-12, .333 (Stojakovic 2-4, Bibby 1-2, B.Jackson 1-3, Christie 0-1, J.Jackson 0-2). Team Rebounds: 4. Team Turnovers: 13 (19 PTS). Blocked Shots: 2 (Divac 2). Turnovers: 12 (Bibby 4, Stojakovic 2, C.Webber 2, Divac, Christie, B.Jackson, J.Jackson). Steals: 10 (Christie 2, Bibby 2, J.Jackson 2, Stojakovic, C.Webber, Divac, Pollard). Technical Fouls: J.Jackson, 5:03 fourth. FGFTReb












Percentages: FG .451, FT .742. 3-Point Goals: 2-6, .333 (Lue 2-3, Brown 0-1, Stackhouse 0-2). Team Rebounds: 12. Team Turnovers: 14 (14 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Haywood 2, Brown). Turnovers: 12 (Stackhouse 4, Lue 2, White, Laettner, Brown, Haywood, Jordan, Dixon). Steals: 5 (Lue, Laettner, Haywood, Dixon, Stackhouse). Technical Fouls: None. Sacramento34232721--105


A--20,173 (20,674). T--2:22. Officials--Jack Nies, Marc Davis, Scott Foster.

Wizards tonight

Opponent:Atlanta Hawks

Site:Philips Arena, Atlanta


TV/Radio:CN8/NC8, TNT/WTEM (980 AM)

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