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Christie scores 13 of his 21 in fourth quarter

1/18/2002

DENVER (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings clamped down on Denver's Raef LaFrentz in the fourth quarter, then turned Doug Christie loose on the offensive end.

Christie scored 13 of his 21 points in the final period, and the Kings pulled away from the Nuggets 112-107 Wednesday night for their 10th straight win.

"Christie was the difference in the fourth quarter," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "He made a couple of huge shots that broke their backs and made a couple of steals. He was unbelievable."

Peja Stojakovic had 29 points and Chris Webber 21 points and 12
rebounds for the Kings, who erased a nine-point deficit late in the
third quarter.

LaFrentz had 30 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, but failed to score and got off just one shot in the fourth quarter. Avery Johnson added 23 points and 12 assists.

"LaFrentz was just drilling everything," Adelman said. "I
think we just got him flat-out tired. We put Hedo (Turkoglu) on him
in the fourth."

Webber said the Kings' strategy "usually is to let them score
as many as they want as long as we win. The game was still close,
so we couldn't let him keep scoring as much."

Denver coach Mike Evans said LaFrentz "was really hurting them.
They decided not to leave him alone anymore. That was a good
adjustment by them, and then we struggled to make shots."

LaFrentz, who hit 12-of-18 shots including 6-of-9 from 3-point
range through three quarters, finished with a season-high point
total despite his fourth-quarter drought.

"I was hot," he said. "The ball felt good coming out of my
hands. It's been a long time since I've felt that way.

"In the fourth quarter, they just weren't giving me many open
looks."

The Nuggets were without their leading scorer, Nick Van Exel,
who did not play because of a bruised jaw suffered when he was
elbowed by Utah's Karl Malone on Monday night.

"His jaw is swollen," Evans said. "He looks like a boxer."

The Kings (29-9) haven't lost since Dec. 22.

"We have to keep trying to get better," Adelman said. "We've
won 10 in a row, we're 20 games above .500 and we are the second
seed in the West. But you have to keep winning because everybody
else is winning."

Sacramento, which scored the last six points of the third
quarter, tied it at 86-86 on Stojakovic's 3-pointer to open the
final period.

Webber's jump hook gave the Kings the lead for good, 90-88, and
Christie then added two 3-pointers for a 96-90 lead with 8:00 left.

Christie, who hit 7-of-8 field goals on the night, made a
backcourt steal and layup on the other end during the Kings' 7-0
run that made it 103-93 with 4:23 to go.

Christie's layup on a pass from Webber made it 105-97 with 3:02
left, and Denver got no closer than five points after that.

LaFrentz scored 12 points in the first quarter to help the
Nuggets take a 30-25 lead by the end of the period. LaFrentz'
fadeaway jumper in the lane gave Denver its biggest lead of the
quarter, 28-21.

Vlade Divac had a three-point play and a short hook shot to put
the Kings in front 34-32 early in the second quarter. Neither team
led by more than two points until Stojakovic hit back-to-back
3-pointers, giving Sacramento a 53-47 lead with 2:07 left in the
half.

Johnson had 10 points in the quarter, and the Nuggets whittled
the deficit to 55-54 at halftime.

The Kings, without Divac for the last 20 minutes after he picked
up his fifth foul early in the third quarter, moved to a 75-68 lead
midway through the third quarter on Christie's 3-pointer.

Denver countered with an 18-2 run, including six points by James
Posey and the fourth 3-pointer of the period by LaFrentz, to build
an 86-77 advantage with 57 seconds left in the quarter.

Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson and Turkoglu each hit two free throws
as the Kings trimmed the deficit to 86-83 entering the final
period.

Game notes
Denver's George McCloud missed his fifth straight game
because of a strained right calf. ... The Kings beat Cleveland
109-102 at home Tuesday night. ... The Nuggets have dropped 12 of
their last 14 games. ... The Kings have won 14 of the last 17 games
in the series and swept the Nuggets in Denver for the first time
since 1995-96. ... The Nuggets are 0-16 this season when they give
up 99 points or more.