Kings 95, Cavaliers 89
CLEVELAND (AP)—Already the NBA’s best home team, Sacramento wants to be Kings of the road, too.
The Kings will play their next five away from Arco Arena, where they have dominated in recent years and are a league-best 21-3 this season.
Now, they want to make their out-of-town record (9-7) just as impressive.
“It’s tough to travel, make a long trip in the cold weather,” said Kings guard Mike Bibby, who had a key assist in the final minute. “But that’s what you do in the NBA. You have to play through those things. We did it tonight, and now we have to do it all over again tomorrow (at Memphis).”
Stojakovic, on a tear of late, scored 20 in the third quarter and the Kings held off the Cavs, who played their second straight game without injured rookie LeBron James but nearly rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final minutes.
Brad Miller had a key putback off a missed free throw with 57.5 seconds left as Sacramento became the first Western Conference team to reach 30 wins.
Vlade Divac had 13 points, nine rebounds and nine assists and Miller had 15 rebounds for the Kings, who have won 10 of 12 overall and are 13-2 against Eastern Conference teams.
Cleveland only dressed nine players and was again without James, who still hasn’t been able to run on his sprained right ankle.
“We’re wounded, but we showed we can play with them,” Cavs guard Kevin Ollie said. “We showed a lot of heart.”
Sure enough, Cleveland was within 89-87 with 1:13 remaining when Wagner made two free throws.
Divac missed a free throw—he clanked his last four from the line—with 57.5 seconds to go, but Miller made the play of the game by smartly sneaking behind Boozer on the baseline to grab the rebound and score while being fouled.
He missed the free throw, but had already done his damage.
“I can’t give all my tricks away,” Miller said with a laugh of his veteran move. “I fooled them with my blazing quickness.”
Kings coach Rick Adelman knew how important Miller’s play was.
“It was huge,” he said. “We usually don’t get the offensive boards, but maybe our time was due. That was an enormous play. If he doesn’t make that play, who knows what happens.”
Boozer hit two foul shots to make it 91-89, but Bibby penetrated in the lane and made a nice pass underneath to Divac, whose layup sealed it with 24.7 seconds to play.
“We did a good job down the stretch moving the ball,” Stojakovic said. “We played with the game on the line.”
Ollie, who is losing his starting job to McInnis, had nine points, nine assists and matched a career high with 10 rebounds for Cleveland.
After scoring just 10 points—all in a 1:29 span of the opening quarter— in the first half, Stojakovic hit all four of his 3-pointers and converted two three-point plays in the third as the Kings opened an eight-point lead.
The Kings shot 74 percent (14-of-19) in the quarter and made five of six 3s.
“We don’t worry about our offense,” Divac said. “We can score. When we play defense and move the ball around, good things happen.”
Sacramento, which shot a season-low 33 percent in a loss on Tuesday to Portland, started out hot from the floor. But the Kings went just 1-for-15 during a stretch of the second quarter that allowed the Cavs to build a six-point lead.
But Bibby hit two free throws and drained a 3-pointer as the Kings tied itat 41 by halftime.
James was walking better and said he hopes to play Saturday against Philadelphia. “When it feels better, I’ll play,” he said. “You can’t learn too much sitting on the sidelines. I’d rather be in there.” … McInnis and Boumtje Boumtje arrived during the game and are expected to practice Friday. Cleveland coach Paul Silas said McInnis will start against the 76ers, and that’s fine with the seven-year veteran, whose arrival will free James of his point guard duties. “I’ve been playing and I’m ready,” McInnis said. “They want me to handle the ball. That’s fine with me.” … The Kings came in ranked first in the league in scoring, field-goal percentage and assists. They’re No.2 in free-throw percentage.