- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

SACRAMENTO There have been times this season when the Sacramento Kings have been so numbingly good that it has appeared as if they didn't need to break a sweat to win, and last night against the visiting Washington Wizards was one of those nights.

Racing up and down the court and doing pretty much whatever they wanted to whenever they wanted to do it, the Kings improved their league-leading record (39-12) by swatting away the Wizards 109-93 in front of a sold-out (17,317) Arco Arena audience.

The loss left the Wizards (26-23) winless in two games since the All-Star break. Prior to the break, Washington was playing some of its best basketball of the season, winning seven of its last nine. The Wizards will get a chance to salvage one game of this three-game western swing tonight when they play at Phoenix.

That won't help pacify the Wizards this morning, though, not after the revenge the Kings exacted. The Kings led by as many as 27 points in the third quarter. So one-sided was the contest that Wizards coach Doug Collins didn't even send Michael Jordan back in the game to start the fourth quarter, which began with the Wizards trailing 83-59.

Jordan, who played 33 minutes, finished with 16 points. Richard Hamilton led the Wizards with 20 points.

Chris Webber left the game with just over seven minutes left and the Kings' victory already secure. At the time Webber, one of three Kings with 20 points or more, was one assist short of what easily could have been his third career triple-double against the Wizards.

Webber finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. Point guard Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic each finished with 20.

Christian Laettner came off the Washington bench and finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. But the Wizards were outrebounded 52-43.

The Wizards really shouldn't feel bad, despite being soundly beaten in about every possible statistical category, because this has happened to all but one team this season in this building. Last night's win improved the Kings' home record to 27-1, the lone loss coming in overtime against the Dallas Mavericks in December. The Wizards haven't won in Sacramento since Dec. 12, 1996.

Last night the Kings came into the game with somewhat of a chip on their shoulders. After all, the Wizards beat them decisively in the teams' last game before the All-Star break. And Webber came into the game still fuming over a story that appeared in the local paper delving into his personal relationship with super model Tyra Banks.

Coming off a loss to the Lakers in which they gave up 65 points in the second half and were outmuscled by the Shaq-less Lakers, the Wizards came into the contest looking to get off to a good start, a mission they accomplished.

Washington raced to a 13-4 lead and appeared to have shaken the doldrums that haunted them two nights earlier at the Staples Center. To that point the Wizards were doing an excellent job of controlling the tempo by not letting the Kings get out and run, something they do as well as any team in the league.

This didn't last for long, though.

After the Wizards' Jahidi White hit dunked with 7:38 left to play in the first, the Kings clamped down defensively, holding the Wizards to two field goals the rest of the quarter. Meanwhile Sacramento started to find somewhat of a rhythm at the offensive end.

This resulted in the Kings outscoring the Wizards 17-4 the rest way to lead 21-18 going into the second quarter.

This shift in momentum carried over into the second quarter, particularly into the later stages of the half when the Wizards just couldn't keep pace.

Trailing the Wizards by 33-32, the Kings closed the half on 17-4 run and led 47-36 at halftime.


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