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Kings down Rockets behind 19 from Bibby, Williamson

HOUSTON (AP) -- The struggling Sacramento Kings caught the
Houston Rockets at the perfect time.

Mike Bibby and Corliss Williamson scored 19 points apiece and
the Kings beat the short-handed Rockets 88-80 Wednesday night.

For the second straight night, the Rockets had six players out
with injuries, including stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.
McGrady's bad back will be re-evaluated on Friday and Yao is out at
least three more weeks after toe surgery.

Not only did the Rockets have just nine healthy players, they
were coming off a double-overtime loss in Charlotte on Tuesday.

"We definitely caught a break after they had such a hard game
last night," said Sacramento coach Rick Adelman. "It wasn't
pretty, but I'll take it."

The Kings have their own mounting injury issues. They were
already missing Bonzi Wells (groin) and Shareef Abdur-Rahim
(fractured jaw) and played without Brian Skinner, who has the flu.
Peja Stojakovic then left Wednesday's game in the third quarter
after re-aggravating a protruding disc in his back. Adelman hopes
he'll be back for Friday's game against the Hornets.

The results of the injuries were predictable -- the Kings shot 42
percent (28 of 66), went 5-of-15 from 3-point range (33 percent)
and got outrebounded 53-43.

But that was still good enough to beat the Rockets, who've lost
four in a row and 11 of their last 14 home games.

"That's something we haven't found a way to do this year -- win
ugly games," said Williamson. "This was an ugly one, but it was a
good one."

Juwan Howard had 24 points and 15 rebounds and Dikembe Mutombo
had a season-high 18 rebounds for the Rockets. While those two held
their own down low, Houston's guards were awful on the perimeter,
going 3-for-20 from 3-point range.

"It's mind-boggling," said Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. "I
don't care how hard you play, if you don't shoot the ball
competently, you're going to have a hard time."

Even with the injuries and a poor shooting night (40 percent),
the Rockets trailed only 79-74 after little-used guard Moochie
Norris hit a deep jumper with 3:55 left.

Sacramento's Francisco Garcia answered with a 3-pointer from the
corner a minute later, but the Rockets had several more chances to
draw closer down the stretch.

Luther Head and Norris missed 3-pointers in the final minute,
and Jason Hart sank two free throws to put the Kings up 84-77 with
40.6 seconds left.

"We can't make any excuses," Howard said. "We had every
chance possible to win this game. But sure enough, we did not close
it out."

The Rockets didn't start so great, either, missing 15 of their
first 21 shots.

The Kings led 18-13 after the first quarter, then broke a 23-23
tie with an 11-3 run. Sacramento led 43-36 at halftime, then opened
the second half with an 11-6 spurt.

The Rockets missed 14 of their first 15 shots from 3-point
range, but stayed in the game by grabbing 15 offensive rebounds in
the first three quarters.

In the final minute of the third, Rafer Alston fouled Bibby on a
jumper from the wing and Bibby converted the three-point play to
give the Kings a 64-55 lead.

Williamson had a backdoor layup and Bibby scored again as the
Kings pushed the lead into double digits early in the fourth
quarter.

"It was not really a high-scoring game, but we were able to
withstand their runs," said Bibby, who had eight assists. "We
helped each other out more than we have been doing in the past."

Game notes
Rose Bowl MVP Vince Young, a Houston native, had a
courtside seat next to Rockets owner Les Alexander. Young, who left
Texas a year early to enter the NFL draft, said he'd like to play
for the Houston Texans, who have the No. 1 pick. "I love my city.
It's not that I'm campaigning," he said, "but it would be really
nice if they took me." ... Rockets F Stromile Swift is out at
least a week with conjunctivitis in his left eye. ... Speedskater
Chad Hedrick, who has qualified for five events at next month's
Olympics, also attended the game. Hedrick lives in Spring, a
Houston suburb.