OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- There was a time when San Francisco Bay-area basketball fans couldn't stand Chris Webber. These days,
they're singing "Happy Birthday" to him.
Webber celebrated his 29th birthday with 32 points, nine
rebounds and eight assists as the Sacramento Kings evened their record on the road with a 116-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
The fans sang to Webber as the All-NBA forward shot free throws in the fourth quarter. Signs throughout the building also conveyed birthday wishes to the Warriors' No. 1 overall draft pick in 1993, whose stormy departure one year later presaged Golden State's seven straight losing seasons since.
"It made me feel really good," Webber said of his reception. "I should go back to videotape of the first time I came back here when I dislocated my shoulder and there were people behind our bench wearing diapers with bottles hanging out of their mouths. This is much better now."
Peja Stojakovic scored 26 points, and Doug Christie added 19 as
Sacramento, the NBA's best home team at 29-2, improved to 13-13 on
the road -- though the huge contingent of Kings fans in Oakland practically gave Sacramento an Arco Arena-sized homecourt advantage.
Webber capped an outstanding evening with an alley-oop dunk off
a pass from Vlade Divac with four minutes to play.
Divac had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Pacific Division leaders beat the last-place team in an entertaining end-to-end game of fast-break basketball in front of just the second sellout crowd at The Arena in Oakland this season.
"It's not Arco, so it's a road win, but our people are great fans," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "A lot of them get tickets here that can't get them in Sacramento. It's much easier when you get a run going and the crowd is cheering for you when you're on the road."
Antawn Jamison scored 20 points, and Larry Hughes had 19 for the
Warriors, who lost their eighth straight to Sacramento. Golden
State also lost rookie Jason Richardson, who didn't return from the
locker room after spraining his left ankle in the third quarter.
Richardson will skip the Warriors' trip to Los Angeles on Saturday night for a game against the Clippers, but Golden State hopes he'll be back for Tuesday's game at San Antonio.
"Jason has been playing well since the All-Star game, and you
want to get him on the court as much as we can," Golden State
coach Brian Winters said. "Injuries are a part of the game,
though. The guys behind him have to step up."
Though the crowd appeared to inspire the Warriors out of their
usual doldrums, the Kings were far too much to handle. Golden State
lost for the 23rd time in 27 games, though a late rally made the
final score close.
Stojakovic put on yet another impressive shooting display,
firing away for 19 points in the first half. He and Christie, who
scored 12 of the Kings' first 14 points, were perfect on their
seven 3-point attempts.
Sacramento led by 19 in the first half following a barrage of
outside shots from Stojakovic and Christie, but the Warriors pulled
within 10 early in the fourth quarter before Webber scored 10 quick
points to put the game out of reach.
Rookie point guard Gilbert Arenas, whose improving play has
belied the Warriors' collapse in the last three months, started in
place of Hughes, who responded with a strong game of his own.
Arenas, a second-round draft pick, promised on draft day that he
would start "by midseason" of his first year.
"Whatever they say, I just do it," Arenas said. "If they tell
me to go back on the injured list, I'll do that. Until they take me
out, I'm just going to keep playing."
Attendance was 19,869, nearly 300 over capacity. ...
Following Sunday's home game against Indiana, Sacramento plays
eight of its next 10 on the road. ... A large contingent from the
Chucky Brown Fan Club was in attendance. Brown, who played the
final three minutes, signed a 10-day contract with the Kings
earlier in the week. ... Webber and Warriors rookie Troy Murphy got
technical fouls for an argument midway through the second quarter.
... Dean Garrett, acquired from Minnesota for Marc Jackson last
week, made his Golden State debut.