Stojakovic scored 14 of his 30 points in a blistering third quarter as the Kings raced to a 113-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers that clinched their fifth straight playoff berth.
In Thursday night’s home showdown with the rival Los Angeles Lakers, the Kings scored 41 points on 13-of-19 shooting in the fourth quarter as they surged to a big win.
In the third quarter against Portland, Sacramento was even better. It made 18-of-22 shots from the field and scored 42 points, turning a four-point halftime deficit into a 91-75 lead.
“We just got hot,” Stojakovic said. “I think every thing started with our defense. We started defending better, which was a problem, especially in the third quarter. We got out of the break and moved the ball and hit our shots.”
“We just lit it up,” Kings coach Rick Adelman said. “I think we kind of got them on their heels and they didn’t know what hit them.”
Overall, Stojakovic made 10-of-14 shots, including 3-of-6 3-pointers. He also had a handful of key baskets in the final period, when the Kings fought off a rally by the Trail Blazers.
“He is just stroking it out there,” Adelman said. “He kept moving further and further out.”
“Peja got going after struggling in the first half,” Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. “I thought Ruben (Patterson) and Bonzi (Wells) played him pretty tough for the most part, but he’s a great player.”
Sacramento (49-21), which leads the Pacific Division by 4 1/2 games over Portland, has won three straight games. It holds the second seed in the Western Conference.
“I definitely see us coming together,” Webber said. “I see it really happening as far as us getting our swagger back. So it felt good to win a tough game against a great team here at home.
“When I say the swagger, I mean we’re talking to each other, getting each other pumped up, we’re playing D and started feeling really good.”
Rasheed Wallace scored 31 points for the Trail Blazers, which is just percentage points ahead of Minnesota for fourth place in the West.
Portland led by as many as 13 points in the first half but settled for a 53-49 edge at intermission. Sacramento rattled off the first 11 points of the third quarter in just over two minutes, opening a 60-53 lead on Stojakovic’s 3-pointer.
A layup by Patterson cut the deficit to 62-60 before the Kings put together an 18-7 surge. Another 3-pointer by Stojakovic capped it at 80-67 with 3:43 remaining.
“Peja started really letting it go and taking some good shots and taking tough shots and having the confidence in them,” Webber said.
“They got out on their break. They hit a lot of shots,” Blazers guard Damon Stoudamire said. “They made it very difficult for us. That was probably Sacramento at it’s best. It’s hard to come back to a team like that when you put yourself in such a hole.”
Nevertheless, the Blazers tried. After Stojakovic’s three-point play made it 99-86 with 8:40 to play, Wallace and Wells scored all the points in a 9-2 surge that cut the deficit to 101-95 with 5:18 left.
But Wells took a bad shot, Webber hit a jumper and Mike Bibby sank two free throws, rebuilding the lead to 10 points. Two free throws each by Wallace and Derek Anderson made it 105-99 with 2:21 to go, but Wallace missed a 3-pointer and Stojakovic didn’t, sealing the win with 1:25 left.
“Peja hit big shots,” Bibby said. “Down the stretch when we needed those shots, Peja made them.” “Our shot selection was questionable, not only in the third quarter, but late in the game,” Cheeks said.
Doug Christie scored 14 points for the Kings, who went 3-1 against the Blazers this season, winning twice in Portland.
Anderson scored 16 points, Patterson added 13 and Stoudamire handed out 11 assists for the Blazers, who shot 47 percent (40-of-85) but went just 7-of-21 from the arc.