Kings 125, Clippers 100

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Sacramento Kings are more than just a passing fancy.

Peja Stojakovic had 31 points and five assists before sitting out the fourth quarter and the two-time defending Pacific Division champs routed the Los Angeles Clippers 125-100 Monday.

The Kings had a season-high 38 assists on 49 field goals—including eight each by Doug Christie and Vlade Divac, who scored 15 points.

“I’ve seen this team have a lot of games this year where we had 30-plus assists and under 10 turnovers. And when you get 38 assists and nine turnovers, you’re really being efficient,” coach Rick Adelman said.

“Our guys really believe the fact that it doesn’t matter who scores, it’s just a matter of how we play. It’s hard to get some guys to buy in on that, but this group really does. This team has played at a higher level offensively than the other teams we’ve had.”

Stojakovic was 5-for-7 on 3-pointers and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line, helping Sacramento win for the ninth time in 10 games and improve the NBA’s best record to 29-9.

“I wasn’t forcing any stuff. I was just trying to play off of our guys,” Stojakovic said. “They all move a lot, move the ball around, find open looks and use the clock well. We got a lot of open shots.”

The Clippers, coming off consecutive two-point losses, lost for the sixth time in eight games. It was their largest margin of defeat this season.

“It’s just embarrassing,” Elton Brand said. “We lost some tough, close games that we could have won. And today, we just didn’t bring it at all. We didn’t come out with the intensity and the sense of urgency that we needed today. We just got blown away.”

Brand, who had 35 points and 20 rebounds against the Lakers on Saturday night, had 24 points and six rebounds. Quentin Richardson returned to Los Angeles lineup, getting 18 points in 35 minutes after missing four of the previous five games because of a sprained right hand.

“It felt pretty good. I’m pleased with it,” Richardson said. “I was able to take a couple of hits on it and keep playing through it.”

The Kings built a 71-54 halftime lead with 22 points from Stojakovic, eight during an 18-2 first-quarter run that included a technical foul on Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy. Sacramento, which entered averaging a league-leading 26.9 assists per game, recorded one on 19 of its first 21 baskets.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like that,” Richardson said. “You can’t ever afford to let Peja get off and get off and get hot because he alone can kill you. But the rest of the guys were on fire, too, and we didn’t play well.”

All five Sacramento starters scored in double figures during the first three quarters while combining for 33 assists, helping extend the margin to 103-78. Adelman rested Stojakovic, Divac and Mike Bibby the entire fourth quarter.

“I’m kind of upset with those guys. It’s Martin Luther King Day, and they could have been a little nicer to us,” Brand said. “They’re the best team in the league right now, record-wise and playing-wise. They don’t dribble the ball much, they pass the ball, get open shots, and they were knocking down those shots. You can’t defend that.”

Matt Barnes, who grew up in Sacramento area, made his NBA debut for the Clippers and got four points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes. He signed a 10-day contract Sunday after swingman Bobby Simmons was placed on the injuredlist with a sprained left hip that could require season-ending surgery.

Notes

Barnes averaged 18.7 points in 17 games with the Long Beach Jam of the American Basketball Association, and was a teammate of Dennis Rodman’s for about a week. “It was exciting,” Barnes said. “We talked about a lot of stuff on and off the court. He’s a real good guy a great person, which kind of surprised me because I really didn’t really know him before and I heard a lot of bad things about him.” … Barnes became the eighth UCLA alum to play for the Clippers in Los Angeles, joining Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes, Marques Johnson, Kenny Fields, Kiki Vandeweghe, Pooh Richardson and Darrick Martin. … The Kings had 37 assists Jan. 4 against Seattle in a 130-99 win. … The Clippers have lost 17 of their last 22 meetings with Sacramento and are 0-3against the Kings this season.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Sacramento
P. Stojakovic P. Stojakovic
9-14,  31 Pts
4 Rebs, 5 Assists
 LA Clippers
C. Maggette C. Maggette
5-9,  14 Pts
9 Rebs, 5 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists