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Whitney's would-be buzzer-beater falls short

12/5/2002

DENVER (AP) -- Chris Webber ran out to challenge Chris Whitney's last-second shot and kept going. He couldn't look.

Figuring Whitney wouldn't miss after making nearly everything he shot in the second half, Webber never saw Whitney's shot bounce off the front of the rim at the buzzer.

Webber's 31 points and 11 rebounds and Whitney's missed shot helped the Sacramento Kings hold off the Denver Nuggets 92-90 Tuesday night.

``I was scared to turn around,'' said Webber, who added eight assists and three blocked shots. ``I waited for the team to run over or something afterward. I thought he was going to make it. As soon as he touched it, that was the last person I wanted to have the ball in his hands.''

Sacramento led 91-88 with just over a minute left before Whitney passed to Rodney White for a baseline jumper.

Sacramento's Bobby Jackson, who finished with 20 points, missed a tough fadeaway with 30 seconds left, but Juwan Howard couldn't hit a fadeaway over Webber on the other end.

After Doug Christie hit just one of two free throws with 6.8 seconds left, Whitney failed to give Denver its fourth last-second victory in two weeks.

``I thought it was going down,'' said Whitney, who hit four 3-pointers and scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half. ``I didn't know I missed it until I heard the crowd reaction because was Webb was in my face and kind of hit me. It was a shot I'm supposed to make.''

The victory was Sacramento's fourth straight and 10th in 11 games, but it didn't come easy.

The Kings played Tuesday night and had just eight players in
uniform due to injuries.

Sacramento appeared to be in control after shooting 54 percent
in the first half, but went cold to open the third quarter and let
Denver climb back in it.

``It's good to get a win,'' Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. ``We really hurt ourselves in the first three minutes of the third quarter. I thought that was the turning point, but we did some good things down the stretch.

The Kings had three turnovers in the first 2:37 of the third and
missed seven straight shots before Jackson hit a tough reverse 4:52
into the quarter.

Sacramento's struggles allowed Denver to open with a 13-1 run,
cutting the Kings' lead to 57-55 on a breakaway layup by Howard
with 7:31 left.

Whitney followed by scoring Denver's next nine points to tie it
at 64-all, and James Posey hit a 3-pointer to give Denver its first
lead, 67-66.

``I'm really proud of our guys,'' said Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik, whose team has lost four straight after a three-game winning streak. ``We have been working on trying to score more and turn the ball over less. We did that tonight, but we just came up a little short.''

Posey, back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench
for the first time Tuesday night, had 12 points, six rebounds and
four assists.

Denver, the worst shooting team in the league, made five of its
first seven shots, but it still wasn't enough to keep pace with the
crafty Kings.

Sacramento worked backdoor cuts for dunks and layups on its
first three baskets, and Vlade Divac had a nifty flip pass over his
shoulder that led to another easy score.

The Kings made eight of their first nine shots and shot 61
percent to lead 32-23 after one quarter. It was a bad omen for the
Nuggets, who had won just two of 12 games when trailing after the
first quarter.

Howard had 17 points and White added 13.

Divac had 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Jackson added five
assists.

Game notes
Nuggets F Donnell Harvey was in the starting lineup a night
after suffering a bruised fibula against Golden State, but played
just four minutes. ... The Kings are 9-22 in Denver since 1987, but
have won three straight. ... Denver, which has the league's
third-stingiest defense, has held 16 of 18 opponents under 100
points. ... Sacramento has won 10 straight at home, but is just 6-5
on the road.