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Kings become eighth franchise to win 2,000 games

12/18/2002

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- While the rest of the Sacramento Kings
gradually reach top form around him, Chris Webber is showing off
his best game almost every night.

Webber had 27 points and 12 rebounds as the Kings stayed perfect
at home, snapping the Phoenix Suns' four-game winning streak with a
95-86 victory Tuesday night.

Bobby Jackson had 19 points for the Kings, who never trailed in
their 15th victory in 17 games. Sacramento scored 10 straight
points to begin the fourth quarter while improving to 13-0 at Arco
Arena this season.

With their injury-plagued roster getting closer to full
strength, the Kings got another outstanding game from Webber, the
NBA's player of the week. The legal problems from his indictment on
charges of lying to a grand jury don't seem to affect him on the
court.

As the Suns discovered, Webber is focused on the Kings' season,
not his Michigan troubles.

"The game right now is real easy for him," coach Rick Adelman
said. "He's doing a little bit of everything, and he's doing it
with confidence. This time, we got everybody else to step up and
take bigger roles as well."

The Kings increased their Pacific Division lead over Phoenix and
Seattle to six games. They're 10{ games ahead of the Los Angeles
Lakers one week before their much-anticipated Christmas showdown at
Staples Center.

Sacramento also passed Indiana for the NBA's second-best record.
The Kings and league-leading Dallas have the league's only perfect
home records.

What's more, Sacramento's extensive injury problems this season
will be largely healed if Mike Bibby makes his season debut as
expected on Thursday night against San Antonio.

"After all the injuries and everything else, we're starting to
get it all together," said Jackson, who returned after missing a
game with a sprained foot. "I think people haven't paid as much
attention to us, because they've been watching the Lakers and
Dallas. We like that. We're under people's radar right now."

Rookie Casey Jacobsen had a career-best 15 points for the Suns,
who lost their sixth straight in Sacramento.

Shawn Marion had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Suns, whose
three-game road winning streak also ended on their second trip to
Sacramento in four weeks. After scoring 39 in the Suns' last trip
to Arco, Stephon Marbury had just nine points on 4-of-16 shooting,
and Penny Hardaway had only eight.

"That's what happens when we come into an environment like this
and miss shots," Marion said. "Missing shots and making turnovers
killed us."

Phoenix played an aggressive, entertaining style after beating
Orlando one night earlier, but the Suns managed just one field goal
in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter during
Sacramento's 14-5 run.

Sacramento's start at Arco Arena is the franchise's best since
moving to Northern California in 1985. The Kings, who began as the
Rochester Royals before subsequent moves to Cincinnati and Kansas
City, also became the eighth NBA franchise to win 2,000 games.

League steals leader Doug Christie had six more, and Keon Clark
blocked five shots as both teams repeatedly capitalized on passing
mistakes and turnovers for easy baskets.

"They kept getting rebounds, and we kept missing," said Suns
coach Frank Johnson, whose team shot 38 percent. "It was the first
quarter when we got caught watching, more than anything. We never
came back from that."

With Jackson, Hedo Turkoglu and Mateen Cleaves back in uniform,
only Bibby and Scot Pollard still remain out with the injury
problems that forced the Kings to dress eight or nine players for
several games this season.
Bibby hasn't played since breaking his foot during the
preseason, but he expects to play Thursday. The Kings won't know
for sure until he practices Wednesday.

"Mike has declared he's coming back," Adelman said. "I told
him that'll be my decision. He needs to calm down a little bit."

Game notes
Cleaves, who made his season debut Sunday against New
Orleans, played in the final three minutes. ... Phoenix lost to the
Kings for the eighth time in the division rivals' last 10 meetings.
... The other franchises with 2,000 victories: Atlanta, Boston,
Detroit, Golden State, New York, Philadelphia and the Lakers. ...
It was just the second time all season that Marbury or Marion
didn't lead the Suns in scoring. ... Sacramento is 16-0 when
leading at halftime this season.

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