SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—Chris Webber knows there will be good times and bad times while he regains strength in his surgically repaired knee—periods of fluid movement and revitalizing play, followed by aches and pain and stiffness.
The Sacramento Kings’ home opener was nothing but a good time for Webber and his teammates.
Webber had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 of the Kings’ 31 assists in their first victory of the season, 108-92 over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
Brad Miller had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, who were back in vintage form after opening with three road losses in Texas for the worst start in coach Rick Adelman’s tenure.
Webber earned his 18th career triple-double with more than three minutes left in the third quarter. The five-time All-Star joined Miller in dominating with superb shooting and ball movement, propelling Sacramento to a 22-point lead in the third quarter.
“I could do everything I wanted to do,” Webber said. “That’s a big thing, and it’s getting to be like that more and more. I feel it coming back, but I’m not all the way back. I felt rejuvenated out there.”
Though Webber plays a bit closer to the ground now, his passing skills and outside shot show no signs of decline. Webber averaged four assists in the Kings’ first three games, but he picked up four on Sacramento’s first four baskets against Toronto.
He excelled in his customary spot at the top of the key in the Kings’ offense, but his resiliency will get its first big test Wednesday, when Sacramento plays at Seattle.
“It’s going to be an 82-game process to find out how much he can do, and how much he can give us,” Adelman said. “Luckily, we were all moving the ball tonight. This isn’t an answer, but it’s a step in the right direction with our scoring and passing.”
Toronto shot poorly and struggled to keep up with Sacramento’s motion offense. The Kings salivated when the Raptors refused to switch properly on Sacramento’s motion plays, leaving Miller, Peja Stojakovic and Bibby open for plenty of easy perimeter shots.
“They didn’t really have to pass well,” Alston said. “We gave it to them, and all they had to do was make one pass.”
Stojakovic rebounded from an opening-week slump with four straight baskets in the first quarter. He finished with 14 points, but the Kings didn’t need a big game from the NBA’s second-leading scorer last season.
“It felt good to be home in our home gym,” Stojakovic said. “We played well on offense, but our defense was good, too. We put pressure on them, and they had to take tough shots. It’s a good beginning.”
Vince Carter had 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting for the Raptors, who seemed unprepared both for Sacramento’s offense and its physical defense. The Kings harassed Alston and Rose while forcing Chris Bosh into a 1-for-6 performance.
“Our second unit played well, but I didn’t see anything positive from the starters,” said first-year coach Sam Mitchell. “It was their home opener, and we knew we’d have to play well, and we didn’t. We got away from the team strategy.”
The Raptors played at the rapid-fire pace preferred by Mitchell, launching 54 shots in the first half. But Toronto struggled to make its open looks, and the Kings scored easily in nearly every stretch of the game.
Sacramento and Atlanta played the NBA’s final home openers Tuesday night. … Three different Kings blocked three consecutive shots by Loren Woods under the basket late in the second quarter. Woods had six points and 11 rebounds. … Mitchell got his first technical foul late in the third quarter. … Webber has 11 triple-doubles with the Kings.