SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—The second-round series between Sacramento and Minnesota is becoming as much about bad tempers as it is great basketball.
Chris Webber guaranteed a Game 7, and the Sacramento star got all kinds of help in making it happen—even teammate Anthony Peeler’s ejection for throwing elbows at league MVP Kevin Garnett had the Kings feeling good.
Mike Bibby had 16 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals despite foul trouble and the energetic Kings used an inspired effort on both ends of the floor to survive elimination, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-87 in Game 6 Sunday.
The deciding Game 7 is Wednesday night in Minneapolis.
“Right now is the time we all dreamed about: Game 7,” Webber said. “We’re ready. … I’m very confident, but no more predictions.”
Peja Stojakovic finally found his shot, scoring 22 points and swishing a long 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer that gave Sacramento the momentum in another testy affair between these teams. Webber had 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
The Kings haven’t won a Game 7 on the road since they were based in Kansas City and beat Phoenix in 1981.
“The good thing is, we’ve been in this situation before,” Webber said. “So I feel comfortable going into it.”
Doug Christie had 16 points and sparked a strong defensive effort against league MVP Kevin Garnett and company, and Sacramento just plain outhustled the Wolves to loose balls and rebounds.
Latrell Sprewell scored 27 points and Garnett added 19, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Timberwolves, who are trying to reach their first Western Conference finals. Sam Cassell scored 16 points before fouling out with 2:32 left, and he was hit with a technical afterward for arguing. Cassell had to be held back from an official by teammate Ervin Johnson.
The Kings were fired up from the start, jumping out to a big lead early and calmly weathering a 17-0 run by Minnesota late in the first quarter. After losing to Minnesota at Arco Arena in three straight games this season— including 114-113 in OT in Game 3—Sacramento has won its last two at home to stay in the series.
Peeler was ejected with 13.5 seconds left in the third after throwing an elbow at Garnett. Peeler, who claimed Garnett tried to hit him in the throat, had also elbowed Garnett on the previous possession, then Garnett stuck his elbow into Peeler’s chest when the Kings came down on offense late in the third quarter.
Garnett was still grimacing from the previous hit when Peeler struck him again and immediately got thrown out. Peeler and Garnett have been sparring all series.
“I feel everybody should have gotten kicked out,” Peeler said. “It always takes two people to fight. It’s never one person.”
Garnett also received a technical and went to the bench. The fans then started throwing glow sticks used for pregame festivities onto the court. Vlade Divac lightly shoved a Minnesota assistant coach during the scuffle but was quickly pushed away.
“This is not a class act,” Garnett said. “I think you should have a little more respect for the game.”
Peeler got a hug from Divac, then waved at his bench before leaving the court.
Bibby said the Kings supported Peeler.
“We ain’t going to let anybody walk over us. We gave him a pat on the back,” Bibby said.
The first elbow thrown by Peeler was similar to the hit teammate Brad Miller took in the midsection in a collision with Minnesota guard Darrick Martin in Friday’s Game 5. Martin fell, and as he lay face-down on the floor, Miller pushed him hard in the back. Both players were tossed.
Miller was fined $10,000 by the NBA on Sunday for an obscene gesture toward fans following his ejection, then went out and scored 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds and made five assists off the bench.
While the Wolves took better care of the ball than in Game 4 here Wednesday when they made 24 turnovers, Sacramento’s defense made it hard for Minnesota to find a consistent rhythm.
Constantly trying to play catch-up—Sacramento led by as many as 16 early in the fourth quarter—didn’t allow Minnesota to relax on offense.
Sprewell, who had 34 points, seven rebounds and six assists in Friday’s 86-74 Game 5 victory, attacked the basket and looked to shoot every time he touched the ball early, scoring 12 points in the first period. He was held to two second-quarter points.
Neither team went to free-throw line in the first quarter, with the first free throw coming 6:22 before halftime.
Bibby was whistled for his fourth foul with 9:01 left in the third and the officials began calling a tighter game.
Sacramento made nine of its first 12 shots to build a 19-11 lead before a 17-0 run gave the Timberwolves a 30-24 lead after one quarter. The Kings shot 60 percent in the first half on the way to a 57-44 halftime lead.
They shot 50 percent after making just 33 percent of their shots in Game 5.
There was talk Kings G Bobby Jackson might return, but Jackson watched in street clothes. He has a slight abdominal tear and hasn’t played in the postseason. … Recently retired baseball slugger Greg Vaughn, a Sacramento native, and Oakland Raiders receiver Jerry Porter were among the celebrities inattendance. … Fan Warren Givens spent his 96th birthday at the game.