Kings 125, Mavericks 119

Friday, May 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ Thousands of cowbells and a couple of ankle injuries weren't enough to slow down the Sacramento Kings.

Mike Bibby scored 29 points and Doug Christie returned from a sprained ankle to score 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as Sacramento beat the Dallas Mavericks 125-119 Thursday night.

The Kings, who lost second-leading scorer Peja Stojakovic to a sprained ankle in the third quarter, took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals.

Game 4 is Saturday in Dallas.

Chris Webber had 31 points and 15 rebounds and Vlade Divac added 19 points and 13 rebounds, helping the Kings add a little muscle to the matchup of the league's two highest-scoring teams.

Michael Finley had 35 points for Dallas, while Raef LaFrentz added 24 points and 13 rebounds.

The Kings rode Bibby's hot-shooting hand to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, then leaned on Christie who provided several key baskets and solid defense during a 14-4 run midway through the fourth quarter that gave Sacramento a 105-97 lead.

Bibby and Christie continually silenced the capacity crowd of 20,265 in the American Airlines Center, many of whom came armed with cowbells, kazoos and various plastic noisemakers distributed by the team.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban encouraged fans to bring all sorts of noisemakers in response to Sacramento fans clanging cowbells behind Dallas' bench during the first two games of the series.

Just before Thursday's game, about 500 cowbells were distributed by a local company to people sitting in the seats behind the Kings' bench. With the big ones, he also gave out a drumstick so they could be banged to maximum volume. Minority owner Linda Carter brought an industrial strength sized one to her courtside seat.

The cacophony began about an hour before tipoff and continued throughout the game.

It didn't seem to bother the Kings much.

They were more worried about Christie, their top defensive player, who sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and had to be carried to the locker room. The team said he would not return to the game, but when Stojakovic was injured with 5:09 left in the third quarter and also had to be carried off the court, Christie returned with less than a minute left in the quarter.

Stojakovic didn't return but Christie took over.

Christie didn't miss a shot, going 6-for-6 from both the field and the free throw line. His biggest 3-pointer followed one by Dallas' Steve Nash that had pulled the Mavericks within 111-107.

Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki finished with 19 points on 6-for-15 shooting and the Mavericks were just 8-for-25 from 3-point range with Nash, who finished with 15 points, going 2-for-10.

Bibby, who was 5-for-5 from 3-point range, scored 10 points as the Kings took a 38-25 lead after one quarter.

Early in the second quarter the Kings led 40-25, but Finley rallied the Mavericks late in the period by scoring six of the team's eight points, then feeding Eduardo Najera for a layup to pull Dallas within 54-51.

Mavericks' reserve 7-foot-1 forward Wang Zhizhi hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to pull the Mavericks to a 66-all tie.

Nowitzki's sub-par offensive outing also affected his rebounding as he finished with just five boards after pulling down 15 in Game 2.