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  • Game info: 10:00 pm EDT Sat Apr 26, 2003

PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference first round; Kings lead 2-0.

The Sacramento Kings may again be faced with the task of winning without Chris Webber in the lineup when they try to take a 3-0 lead in their first-round series with the Utah Jazz.

Webber led Sacramento with 27 points and 11 rebounds in its 95-84 win over Utah in Game 1, but in the Kings’ 108-95 victory Monday in Game 2, he was forced to leave in the second quarter because of a lower back injury.

The All-Star forward skipped practice for the second straight day on Thursday to rest the sore muscles in his back. Webber is receiving daily treatment and therapy, but the Kings still don’t know whether he’ll play in Game 3.

“He definitely feels better than he did yesterday, but I don’t know what that means,” Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said Thursday. “He didn’t do anything on the floor. We’re just waiting to see how he feels.”

Webber led the Kings with 23.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game during the regular season, though he missed 15 games with various injuries.

Sacramento went 10-5 without Webber in the lineup because it has arguably the most depth of any NBA team.

“We’re not as deep as they are—well, nobody is,” Jazz forward Matt Harpring said. “We don’t have any margin for error. They’ve got a little margin. If one guy isn’t playing well, they’ve got a bunch of guys who can take it over.”

That group stepping up in Webber’s absence Monday included Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac and Bobby Jackson.

Stojakovic scored 29 points, Divac had 15 points and seven rebounds and Jackson had 15 points and six assists for the Kings.

“In the first game, we were nervous,” Stojakovic said. “Tonight, we really moved the ball and found open guys. When you’re playing against such an experienced team, you get worried about your defense on (John) Stockton and (Karl) Malone. Tonight, we played beyond that.”

Utah has never won a best-of-seven series after losing the opener, let alone the first two, and both Stockton and Malone could be playing their final games for the Jazz if they don’t solve Sacramento soon.

The 41-year-old Stockton is considering retirement and Malone needs to decide if he wants to play in Utah or somewhere else next fall after his contract expires. Both have said the decisions will come after the playoffs, and right now, their focus is on getting a win in the series.

“You’ve got to go out there and be physical,” Malone said. “That’s how we were able to be in the first game, but in the second game we didn’t do that and they did whatever they wanted to do.”

The Kings have won the last six regular-season meetings at the Delta Center and beat the Jazz there twice in the opening round of last year’s playoffs for a 3-1 series win.

Game 4 is Monday in Salt Lake City.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Kings - 59-23, 2nd seed. Jazz - 47-35, 7th seed.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Kings - F Webber or Keon Clark, F Stojakovic, C Divac, G Doug Christie, G Mike Bibby. Jazz - F Malone, F Harpring, C Greg Ostertag, G Calbert Cheaney, G Stockton.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Stojakovic, 22.5 ppg; Divac, 8.5 rpg; Jackson, 6.0 apg. Jazz - Malone, 20.0 ppg and 5.5 apg; Ostertag, 7.5 rpg.

REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Kings, 3-1. Sacramento won the two matchups at Utah by a combined five points, including a 108-105 overtime victory on March 7. Webber averaged 25.5 points and 14 rebounds in those two wins, and played sparingly in both meetings at Arco Arena. Malone averaged 18.5 points in the series.

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