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Peja Stojakovic recalls Kings' lost chances

2/9/2011

For some reason, the local media after Tuesday's practice was consumed with Peja Stojakovic's return to Sacramento tonight as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Stojakovic obviously started his career with the Sacramento Kingsand had some great years there on some very good teams that came close to ousting the Lakers.

But, it's not like Stojakovic is making his maiden voyage back to Sac.

"It's been five years since I left the team," Stojakovic said. "I've played there with other teams. I always keep those good memories in the back of mind and we move on."

Perhaps the interest in Stojakovic's return is because he does so in a Mavs uniform. The Kings and Mavs had some good playoff battles in the day, but even those have long faded from memory. All the reminiscing to indicate that what hasn't faded from Stojakovic's memory is just how close the Kings came to defeating the Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference finals.

"So many times, so many nights," Stojakovic said. "So many times we all think about that. So many opportunities that we didn't utilize, and that was it. We had a good run and most definitely we had a great team and great chemistry."

The Lakers won it in 7. Games 4 and 5 were decided by one point and Game 7 in overtime. The Lakers' Game 6 win in L.A. came under scrutiny for being affected by the refs after the Tim Donaghy scandal. The Lakers took 40 free throws compared to 25 for the Kings, and L.A. made 18 free throws over the final 6:21 of the game to pull out a 106-102.

Here's what then coach Rick Adelman had to say about that after the game: "I feel sorry for our team because they did everything they could to win the game. It's a shame, a real shame. ... Our big guys get 20 fouls and Shaq gets four. You tell me. Obviously, they got the game called the way they wanted to get it called...We tried to play through it ... but, obviously, it was a huge change tonight over the last few games."

As for Stojakovic's health heading into just his second game with the Mavs, he said he felt overall pretty good after logging 20 minutes in his Dallas debut Monday night. It was his longest stint among the nine games he's played this season. He hit 3-of-9 shots -- just 1-of-6 from 3-point range -- for eight points. He also had five rebounds.

"I'm a little sore from the game, but a good sore," Stojakovic said. "I'm trying to work myself in and try to get better as the days go on and the games progress."