Kings 99, Rockets 94

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HOUSTON (AP)—Mike Bibby pulled the Sacramento Kings back into the game just in time.

Bibby equaled a season high with 28 points as the Sacramento Kings, after trailing for most of the game, rallied for a 99-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.

“We started to make baskets and we were stopping them,” Bibby said. “We got stops toward the end.”

A record crowd of 18,209 saw the game, including Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb—both in town for the Super Bowl.

Sacramento led only once in the first half, 18-17, and trailed until Bibby fed Darius Songaila for a reverse layup and a 77-76 lead with 8:39 left.

The Kings were behind 83-80 with seven minutes to play before scoring eight straight points, including a 3-pointer and a basket by Bibby for an 88-83 lead. They never trailed again.

“It was a good win for us on this long trip,” Kings coach Rick Adelman said. “A win like this makes your trip. We just stayed with it. We got real active defensively in the second half. We got a lot of deflections.

“That comes from five people playing, not just two.”

The Rockets got close at 96-94 on a 3-point basket by Jim Jackson with five seconds to play, but free throws by Bobby Jackson and Peja Stojakovic, both following fouls by Steve Francis, iced the game.

Bobby Jackson scored 21 points for the Kings, Stojakovic added 19 and Brad Miller had 16.

Jim Jackson led the Rockets with 28 points, tying his season high. He hit 11 of 12 shots from the field and was 5-for-5 at the free throw line. Cuttino Mobley added 19 points and Maurice Taylor had 18.

“Losing is just like winning, it can be contagious,” Jim Jackson said. “We’re not being aggressive enough. We’re not doing the little things to win. We’re up and down. We’ve got to keep pushing.”

Each team made a first-quarter run with the Rockets jumping to a 12-1 lead, ignited by Jim Jackson’s shooting.

Bibby pulled the Kings back into the game after Sacramento missed its first five shots of the game. Bibby’s basket and free throw with 4:53 left in the first quarter gave Sacramento its first lead.

Bibby missed four free throws in the final three minutes.

“I go through it every year,” Bibby said of his free throw lapse. “When I try to be aggressive early in the game I do all right. But we played good help defense. It’s contagious. If we play defense like that we’re going to be hard to stop.”

After that, the game stayed close until the Rockets nudged ahead 48-39 with 3:43 to go in the second quarter. Bobby Jackson had 11 second quarter points for the Kings, who rallied to a 53-49 deficit at the end of the half.

The Rockets were again plagued by turnovers, 24 this time, and too many of them came at crucial times in the fourth quarter.

“Turnovers are a problem every night for us,” Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “They turn into transition points so you’re not only not scoring but you’re giving up easy baskets too.

“We had a 14-turnover differential. That’s like we’re spotting Sacramento18-20 points and saying now go beat them.”

Notes

Maurice Taylor ranks second in the NBA in reserves scoring, averaging 12.1 points in 38 games. … Mark Jackson signed with the Rockets on Jan. 15 and has continued to add to his career assists total. Jackson has 10,236 assists and joins John Stockton and Magic Johnson as the only players in NBA history with 10,000 assists. … The Maloof family, current owners of theKings, owned the Rockets from 1979 through 1982.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Sacramento
P. Stojakovic P. Stojakovic
5-16,  19 Pts
9 Rebs, 3 Assists
 Houston
M. Taylor M. Taylor
8-14,  18 Pts
14 Rebs, 2 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists