SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—After thriving on the longest homestand in franchise history, the Sacramento Kings hope their high-scoring show is ready for the road.
Anthony Peeler had 14 points in a reserve role as Sacramento blew a big early lead before rallying in the fourth for its 11th straight home victory over the Clippers. The Kings haven’t left home in three weeks, winning seven of eight games while building the cohesion and late-game tenacity they showed against the Clippers.
“We improved our game,” said Stojakovic, who hit three 3-pointers. “Our game looks better than it did before the homestand. We’re playing much better, much easier.”
The Kings still haven’t figured out how to avoid the third-quarter lapses that have plagued them this season, however. The Kings jumped to a 21-point lead in the third before giving away all but two points of it in less than seven minutes.
But with Stojakovic and Bibby leading the way, Sacramento rallied for a win despite the absence of top reserve Bobby Jackson, sidelined with bronchitis. Bibby played 42 minutes, while Peeler got a season-high 30.
“It felt good to be a part of the flow, because this team is all about teamwork,” Peeler said. “With Bobby out, everybody who’s not a tall guy had to step up.”
Corey Maggette had 27 points for the Clippers, who lost their fifth straight road game. Los Angeles hasn’t won in Arco Arena since Nov. 7, 1997.
Sacramento, the NBA’s highest-scoring team, controlled three of the four quarters while scoring more than 100 points for the 14th time in 19 games. The Kings struggled to find an offensive rhythm, but Stojakovic’s canny playmaking kept them ahead.
“There’s one common trend to this team so far,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We’ll be flowing good, we get the lead, and then if we miss a couple of shots, we stop playing at the other end too. We’ve got to play together at that point. We get so casual when that happens.”
Los Angeles had a 21-5 run midway through the third, eventually pulling to 74-72 on Elton Brand’s free throw. Maggette, shooting nearly every time he touched the ball, scored 14 points in the quarter as the Clippers put a scare into the sellout crowd before the Kings rallied.
“Our second-half energy was great,” Maggette said. “We played very good defense, but we were down by too much. Then Peja started hitting some tough shots, and Bibby started making plays.”
Brand had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, while Chris Kaman added 14 points and 14 rebounds. All five of Los Angeles’ starters made less than 50 percent of their shots, however.
“We just need to make some shots,” coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Defensively, we’re doing a lot of good things. Some of the shots even looked good. Hopefully we’ll start making them in due time.”
Two days after recording his second career triple-double against his former Indiana teammates, Brad Miller picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter. The Sacramento forward finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
The Kings play four of their next five on the road. Though they’ve fallen behind the streaking Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific Division race, the Kings are thriving without star forward Chris Webber, who still seems to be a few weeks away from finishing his rehabilitation from knee surgery.
Sacramento had just 10 players on its bench in Jackson’s absence. The Kingswaived guard Rodney Buford on Monday, but didn’t replace him on the roster.
Bibby’s seven rebounds were a season high. … Stojakovic and Vlade Divac teamed with the Clippers’ Marko Jaric and Predrag Drobnjak on the Yugoslavian team that won the 2002 World Championships. Stojakovic and Jaric joked with each other throughout Tuesday night’s game. … The Kings were called for 13 fouls in the third quarter to Los Angeles’ five. Maggette shot 16 free throws in the first three quarters and none in the fourth. … Brandblocked four shots.