Sacramento (38-13) at Minnesota (38-15)

Fair Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Thu Feb 19, 2004
  • TV: TNT, TNT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Sacramento Kings did not seem to miss Chris Webber or Brad Miller in their first game back from the All-Star break.

It will be tougher having neither power forward when facing Kevin Garnett.

The Kings will be without Webber, serving an eight-game suspension, and Miller, sidelined by a sprained foot, as they hit the road for a marquee matchup with Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“We have to come and play, regardless of whether Chris is here or not,” said Kings point guard Mike Bibby.

Webber, a five-time All-Star who underwent offseason knee surgery, was activated Monday but was suspended Tuesday for violating the league’s anti-drug policy and lying to a federal grand jury.

“I knew he would be suspended, but I didn’t know it would be that many games,” Bibby added. “I don’t think it was worth eight games … but we’ll get through it.”

Miller was hurt Sunday while appearing in his second straight All-Star game. The 7-footer, averaging 15 points and 10.8 rebounds, has been the key to Sacramento keeping stride while Webber’s knee recovered.

The two will be sorely missed as the Kings try to contain Garnett, who had 33 points and a career-high 25 rebounds lining up against Miller in Minnesota’s 112-109 overtime win at Sacramento on Dec. 5.

However, the Kings didn’t miss a step without their big men Tuesday as they hit 56 percent from the field, including a franchise record-tying 16 3-pointers, to post their second-highest scoring game of the season in a 127-111 win over Boston.

“The thing about that team, they make tough shots,” said Boston’s Paul Pierce. “That’s what makes them an elite team. They make shots no matter who’s on the court with them.”

Peja Stojakovic scored 28 points and Vlade Divac had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as Sacramento won its fourth straight and eighth in nine games.

While Webber will be eligible to play against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 2, there is no timetable for Miller’s return.

The Timberwolves, leading the Midwest Division, kicked off the second half of the season by moving a franchise-best 23 games over .500 with Tuesday’s 110-95 win over Phoenix.

Garnett, a seven-time All-Star, had 32 points and 14 rebounds for his league-leading 47th double-double and Minnesota improved to 28-7 since the beginning of December.

With several players coming back from injuries just in time for the stretch run, the Timberwolves are poised to snap a streak of seven straight first-round playoff exits.

Troy Hudson has returned from an ankle injury while Michael Olowokandi—on the injured list since Dec. 13—and Wally Szczerbiak, who has sat out all season, both practiced without restriction Monday.

“I’m ready to see us all healthy and how we all flow, and to form some chemistry going up to April,” Garnett said. “That’s what is most important.”

STANDINGS (through Feb. 17): Kings - 1st place, Pacific Division. Timberwolves - 1st place, Midwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Kings - F Stojakovic, F Darius Songaila, C Divac, G Doug Christie, G Bibby. Timberwolves - F Latrell Sprewell, F Garnett, C Ervin Johnson, G Trenton Hassell, G Sam Cassell.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Stojakovic, 25.5 ppg; Miller, 10.8 rpg; Divac, 5.6 apg. Timberwolves - Garnett, 24.9 ppg and 14 rpg; Cassell, 7.8 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 5; Timberwolves, 112-109, OT. At Sacramento, Sprewell had a season-high 37 points on 14-of-20 shooting and Cassell added 26 for Minnesota.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 14-9 on the road; Timberwolves - 20-6 at home.

INJURIES: Kings - F Miller (ankle); F Lawrence Funderburke (achilles). Timberwolves - C Olowokandi (knee); G Szczerbiak (foot).

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