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Kings need just one more win to clinch playoff spot

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Home-court advantage throughout the
playoffs would be a big advantage for the Sacramento Kings. They'll
only get it with more victories like their easy win over the
Houston Rockets.

Chris Webber had 35 points and 12 rebounds as the Kings regained
sole possession of the NBA's best record with a 110-87 victory
Tuesday night.

Sacramento, which has struggled all season away from Arco Arena,
followed up a 4-1 East Coast road trip by improving the NBA's best
home record to 31-3. With the Lakers' loss at Dallas, the Kings
opened a one-game lead over Los Angeles atop the Western Conference
with 16 games remaining for both teams.

Last week, Webber said he thinks the Kings will need home-court
advantage to beat the two-time champion Lakers in the playoffs. If
the Kings' All-Star forward keeps dominating in the regular
season's final weeks, Sacramento has an excellent shot at claiming
the league's best record for the first time.

"We've been looking for that stride, and we're finally starting
to feel it," said Webber, who went 15-of-20 from the field and had
five assists to go with his second-largest offensive output of the
season.

"We're starting to feel a little bit better about things. All
we can do is keep on winning the games we're supposed to win, and
we feel like we can win any game."

Though the Kings lost All-Star Peja Stojakovic in the opening
seconds when he aggravated his strained right hamstring, they had
little trouble beating Houston for the seventh straight time. Bobby
Jackson had four 3-pointers among his 20 points, and Mike Bibby
added 15 in front of a typically boisterous crowd.

"We've been relying too much on our home games, but we all know
we can play this way no matter where we are," Jackson said. "The
gym we're in shouldn't matter. We should come out with this
intensity everyplace."

Steve Francis had 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting with eight
rebounds and eight assists as the Rockets lost their third
straight. Cuttino Mobley scored 17 points, and Kelvin Cato had 16.

"We did a lot of good things, (but) we had 10 shots bobble and
then come out, and you aren't going to have a chance when you do
that," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.

Stojakovic, the NBA's 15th-leading scorer at 21.9 points per
game, first injured his right hamstring during the Kings' loss at
New York on Thursday night. He missed Sacramento's win Sunday at
Toronto, and his attempt to return against the Rockets ended early
when he hurt himself on a layup attempt.

Coach Rick Adelman said Stojakovic didn't do any new damage to
his hamstring. He likely won't play Thursday night against Denver,
however.

"He's somebody we don't want to lose for a long period of time,
so we're going to be extremely cautious with them," Adelman said.

Rookie Eddie Griffin sat out with a sprained ankle for the
Rockets, who have lost on the first two stops of a five-game road
trip. Kenny Thomas' 11 rebounds led a strong effort on the boards,
but Houston's defense was too slow to contend with the Kings' fast
break and Jackson's outside shooting.

Also, the Rockets were only 1-for-15 on 3-pointers, including 10
straight misses by Francis and Mobley.

"You can't say it was one of those nights," Francis said.
"That's one of our good assets: making 3-pointers. We weren't able
to make 3-pointers, or even shots from inside the arc. If you can't
match them points for points, you're in trouble."

Hedo Turkoglu got most of Stojakovic's minutes and finished with
12 points on his 23rd birthday. Doug Christie had nine points and
10 assists as Sacramento opened a four-game homestand that includes
a key visit from the Lakers on Sunday.

Game notes
Vlade Divac got a standing ovation in the third quarter
when he brought the ball across midcourt, broke down Cato off the
dribble, drove to the hoop and made a flying layup. It was the only
field goal in a 1-for-8 night for Divac. ... Six of Cato's seven
field goals were dunks. ... Sacramento activated Mateen Cleaves
from the injured list earlier in the day, but he didn't dress for
the game. ... Chucky Brown, a member of the Rockets' 1995
championship team, hit a 17-foot jumper late in the game for
Sacramento. The Kings, who are Brown's record 12th NBA team, signed
him for the rest of the season earlier this week.

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