SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA (TICKER) —Chris Webber picked up where he left off.
The Kings played the previous 10 games without Webber, who suffered a sprained left ankle against Utah on January 28. He did not look rusty and showed no lasting effects of the injury, collecting 20 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. “He’s going to open things up during the game. We’ve seen that before when he has come back. He’s one of those guys who can come back and pick up right where he left off.”
“I felt good and I trusted it more as the game went on,” Webber said. “There will be a little stiffness for about a month or so, but I will just get treatment. I was just happy to be out there.”
The Kings shot just 35 percent (15-of-43) in the first half but rallied to forge a 47-47 halftime tie. They made 21-of-38 shots and 8-of-8 free throws in the second half to take control.
“I thought we had a hard time getting into the game for a long time,” Adelman said. “They had the pace where we wanted it. We got better as the game went on.”
Sacramento took the lead for good when Vlade Divac opened the second half with a pair of free throws. Doug Christie scored five points during a 12-4 run that gave the Kings a 65-55 lead with 7:06 remaining.
Sacramento had its largest lead at 89-78 with 5:43 left in the fourth quarter. New York pulled within 97-92 with 26 seconds left, but Bibby sealed the win with a pair of free throws less than four seconds later.
Bobby Jackson and Doug Christie scored 13 points apiece and Peja Stojakovic added 12 for the Kings, who improved to 5-1 on a season-high seven-game homestand and are 11-0 against the Eastern Conference at Arco Arena this season.
Divac collected 11 points and eight rebounds for Sacramento, which outscored New York from the line, 22-10.
“The trip was disappointing in terms of what our goals were,” New York coach Don Chaney said. “I thought there were a couple of games that we expected to win.”
“If we hit our 3-pointers, I think we have a chance to win this game,” Chaney said.
“We didn’t shoot well and sometimes you live by the jumper, sometimes you die by it,” Sprewell added. “That’s usually the case when you are on long trips like this and you don’t have fresh legs. You don’t shoot as well.”