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With Webber nursing injury, Kings cruise

DENVER (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings greeted the news that
Chris Webber wouldn't play with a shrug. After using nine different
starting lineups in the first 32 games, the Kings are used to
filling in holes.

Besides, they were playing the lowly Denver Nuggets.

Mike Bibby scored 24 points and Doug Christie had 12 points,
seven assists and seven steals as the Kings beat the Nuggets 87-76
Saturday night.

Sacramento was already without Bobby Jackson (broken hand), then
Webber, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, didn't make the
trip to Denver due to a sore left knee.

The Kings made up for it by forcing 21 turnovers and holding
Denver to 36 percent shooting to beat the Nuggets for the seventh
straight time.

"This team, when we have guys go out, we never talk about the
guys not here. We talk about going out and playing,'' Kings coach
Rick Adelman said. "The guys who have an opportunity to play with
a guy hurt, it is their opportunity to step up. So far this year we
have been able to do that.''

The loss of their top two scorers led to some sloppy moments on
offense, but the Kings made up for it on defense.

Sacramento led just 46-42 at halftime, but held Denver to
3-for-17 shooting and forced nine turnovers to push the lead to
67-50 after three quarters. Christie had four steals in the third
as the Kings held the Nuggets to eight points.

"Once you get one steal you get a guy thinking, and then you
can kind of play with him,'' Christie said. "All of a sudden you
are able to get to the passing lane when they are not looking and
they will throw the ball right to you.''

While Christie provided the defense, Bibby gave the Kings a lift
with 11 points in the third.

He hit a corner jumper to start a 9-0 run to open the third
quarter, then capped it with a hard drive to the basket that put
the Kings up 55-42.

Bibby also lost Predrag Savovic with a quick crossover and
scored on a tough reverse to put the Kings up 61-44 with six
minutes left.

"Mike works on those fluky layups,'' Christie said.

The Nuggets ended a 10-game losing streak with a 94-82 victory
over Seattle the previous night, but their ragged play against the
Kings frustrated coach Jeff Bzdelik.

He repeatedly yelled for his team to push the ball, and slammed
his hand on the scorer's table early in the first quarter after a
steal and a layup by Christie.

Bzdelik also stomped his foot after a weak pass in the second,
and stomped and yelled after the Nuggets didn't get into the
offense quick enough in the third.

"Last night we played well. Everything was a struggle
tonight,'' said Bzdelik, whose team has lost seven straight at home
and 18 of 20 overall.

After shooting 54 percent against Seattle, Denver made seven of
its first 11 shots to take a 15-12 lead. The Nuggets did it by
going almost exclusively to Juwan Howard, who had nine points in
the first five minutes and finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

But as usual for the league's worst shooting team, it didn't
last.

Denver missed seven of its final nine shots in the first, then
fell behind 31-21 early in the second after Sacramento went on a
10-2 run.

It got worse in the third while the Kings were pulling away.

The Nuggets missed several open shots under the basket and a
straightaway 3-pointer by Savovic clanged hard off the rim after
hitting high off the backboard.

It was the second time this season Denver scored less than 10
points in a quarter.

"It's tough playing the second half of back-to-back games,''
said Denver's Rodney White, who had 18 points and eight rebounds.
"We just didn't have the same smoke we had yesterday.''

Game notes
Denver F Ryan Bowen returned after missing Friday night's
game with the flu. ... Christie, who leads the league in steals
with nearly three per game, has two or more in 13 straight games.
... Nuggets backup point guard John Crotty didn't play in the
second half after straining his left Achilles' tendon. ...
Sacramento has won 19 of its last games 25 over the Nuggets,