SACRAMENTO, Calif. Somebody forgot to tell the Washington Wizards that play time is over.
Facing a Sacramento Kings team that was without some of its most important players, the Wizards shot just 29.9 percent in a 99-80 loss last night at Arco Arena in their first game after the All-Star break.
It was the Wizards’ second-poorest shooting performance since their 29.6 percent effort against Toronto in the season opener and matched their largest margin of defeat this season.
The Kings put away the game in the third quarter when they held the listless Wizards to just 11 points and four field goals, leading by as many as 25 points.
Make no mistake about it, this is not the same Sacramento team that many suspect might be capable of usurping both the Western Conference title and the NBA championship from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Kings (35-17) were playing without leading scorer Chris Webber (ankle) and stalwarts Scot Pollard and Bobby Jackson, both out with hand injuries. But their absence was not even an issue.
The Wizards, who fell to 24-26, were not at full strength either. They were once again without leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse, who is out with a groin injury and may return Friday at Utah.
Peja Stojakovic led Sacramento with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Doug Christie had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Four other Kings reached double figures in scoring.
Larry Hughes, in his first game back from a knee injury, came off the bench to lead the Wizards with 19 points despite shooting 5-for-15. Michael Jordan had 12 points, on 5-for-19 shooting, with seven rebounds. Brendan Haywood was the only other Wizard in double figures with 10 points.
For much of the first quarter Washington forced the Kings to play the Wizards’ style of basketball they kept the explosive Kings from getting out on the fast break and getting easy baskets.
As a result, with just more than two minutes to play in the first quarter the teams were tied at 19.
Unfortunately for the Wizards, it did not stay this way.
The Kings closed the quarter with a 6-0 run to lead 25-19.
After being held to just 36 percent shooting in the first quarter, Sacramento started to do a better job of getting up and down the court against the Wizards in the second. It started to become clear by the growing grimace on coach Doug Collins’ face that the game had the potential to get out of hand.
It wasn’t long into the second quarter before Stojakovic was fouled on a driving layup by Washington’s Bryon Russell. Stojakovic converted the 3-point play to give the Kings an 11-point lead.
This was part of a 15-8 Sacramento run that eventually produced the Kings’ largest lead of the first half, 48-34, with just under two minutes to play.
While the Kings’ shooting improved in the second quarter (50 percent), Washington continued to struggle from the floor, making just seven of 23 shots and shooting a horrid 32 percent in the first half.
The Kings wasted no time putting the game away, and Stojakovic was the driving force.
Sacramento opened the third quarter on a 15-5 run that extended the lead to 65-44 late in the period. Stojakovic went for nine of the Kings’ points during this stretch and took some of the scoring load away from Christie, who scored all of his 16 points in the first half.
Notes: At halftime Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Washington native Jerry Porter, wide receivers for the AFC champion Oakland Raiders, were introduced to the crowd. Before the game Rice visited with the Wizards’ Michael Jordan. Home run king Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants was also in attendance.