<
>
New OrleansHornetsNO
38-40, 14-25 Away
91
Final
1234T
NO2219193191
SAC27331629105
105
SacramentoKingsSAC
54-23, 33-6 Home

Miller, Peja, C-Webb score 20 or more

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Brad Miller flung himself to the
floor, scrapped for rebounds and played through the pain in his
right elbow -- anything to keep the wobbly Sacramento Kings from
toppling.

Miller had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back from
injury, and the Kings kept their precarious perch atop the Western
Conference with a 105-91 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on
Tuesday night.

Peja Stojakovic scored 26 points and Chris Webber had 24 for the
Kings, who still can't find the poise and chemistry they've lost
since Webber's return from a knee injury. They nearly blew this one
by allowing a 26-point lead to dwindle to four, but Miller's hard
work and Doug Christie's timely baskets saved them.

"I think we got back a little bit of our swagger tonight,"
said Miller, who had missed the last three games with bursitis.
"We're getting closer to where we want to be, and if we get
everybody back healthy, I think we'll start winning a few blowouts,
instead of these crazy games."

Playing without their top three scorers, the undermanned Hornets
chopped the lead to 81-77 before Christie started a 9-0 rally with
a 3-pointer and a dunk. Christie scored nine of his 15 points in
the fourth quarter.

"I think we realized the importance of this game, because we
really can't afford to lose probably more than one more game,"
Christie said. "We always played hard, but we did made too many
mistakes at times. We're getting close to that playoff focus,
though."

The Kings (54-23) moved a half-game ahead of the Minnesota
Timberwolves (54-24), who visit Sacramento on Thursday. With the
Lakers' loss to Portland, Sacramento also jumped 1{ games ahead of
Los Angeles in the quest for the Kings' third straight Pacific
Division title.

All-Star Jamaal Magloire had 20 points, 13 rebounds and eight
turnovers before fouling out for the injury-plagued Hornets, who
clinched a playoff berth despite losing for the 12th time in 13
road games. New Orleans made a season-high 24 turnovers but still
came close to the franchise's first win in Sacramento since Jan.
12, 1997.

"I thought we made them look better defensively than they
really are," said P.J. Brown, who had six points on 1-of-7
shooting. "We made a lot of unforced errors in that first half. We
need to turn on the switch and get into playoff mode."

With Baron Davis, David Wesley, Jamal Mashburn and Courtney
Alexander watching in street clothes, New Orleans (38-40) finished
a five-game West Coast road trip by dropping into sixth place in
the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind Miami.

The Hornets also fell two games below .500 for the first time
this season, but Cleveland's loss to Toronto put them back in the
postseason.

"We were turning the ball over way too much, and they jumped on
us," said Darrell Armstrong, who had 21 points and eight rebounds.
"In the second half, we stopped the turnovers and got ourselves
back in the game -- and then we got sloppy again."

Armstrong hit four 3-pointers while starting in Davis' place.

The Kings haven't been themselves since Webber returned and top
reserve Bobby Jackson went on the injured list with an abdominal
injury in early March. Their struggles reached a peak last week
when the Kings lost four of five games and briefly fell out of
first place in the Pacific Division.

"We're starting to come along," Webber said. "The knee feels
great. It's starting to feel healthy and respond well, and that's
progress. I'm feeling better all the time out there."

Though Jackson missed his 23rd straight game, he could return at
any time -- and the Kings will have no shortage of motivation for
their next two home games against Minnesota and the Los Angeles
Lakers.

Game notes
The Hornets had three assists and 17 turnovers in the first
half. ... Kings coach Rick Adelman got his 300th victory in
Sacramento. ... Vicente Escobedo, the lightweight representative on
the U.S. Olympic boxing team, attended the game in a Kings jersey.
Escobedo is from nearby Woodland, Calif. ... Vlade Divac played
just 12 minutes and didn't score.

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