Exactly 19 years ago today, the Sacramento Kings went on the road to take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals.
Despite being without All-Star forward Peja Stojakovic for the fourth-straight game, the Kings won Game 2 at home in front of a raucous home crowd at Arco Arena, tying the series at 1-1.
It wasn’t going to be an easy task. The Lakers had only lost once at home during the first two rounds, and with Kings’ head coach Rick Adelman going with a shortened bench, Sacramento would have its work cut out.
The game was close through the first six minutes, with the Kings holding a 13-11 lead with 5:40 left in the opening quarter, but it was all Sacramento after that. Forward Hedo Turkoglu, who was starting in place of Stojakovic, and Chris Webber combined for 13 points and helped the Kings go on a 19-4 run to close out the quarter and take a 32-15 lead.
Sacramento would use its defense to further its leads early in the second quarter. The Kings were doubling Lakers’ big man Shaquille O’Neal hard, holding the former league MVP to just two points over the first 16 minutes of the game. The Kings were up 38-17 with 8:30 to go when O’Neal would wake up.
Shaq scored 13 points over the rest of the quarter, cutting Sacramento’s lead to 52-40 at the half, but that was close as L.A. would get the rest of the way.
The Kings ramped up their defense coming out of the break, holding the Lakers scoreless for the first 4:18 of the third, and took a 60-40 lead. Webber, Turkoglu and Doug Christie took over on the offensive end, combining for 12 points over the final 7:21, helping Sacramento put things out of reach with a 75-52 lead after three.
The Lakers would try to get back in the game in the fourth but couldn't cut the deficit to below 12 points. Anytime it looked like L.A. was on the verge of making it close, Webber or point guard Mike Bibby came up with a clutch basket to keep the Lakers at bay.
Webber led the way with 26 points and 9 rebounds, while Bibby chipped in with 24 as Sacramento went on to a 103-90 win to take a 2-1 series lead.
After the game, Webber spoke with the Associated Press:
“It’s a big night for our fans, because we feel like we’re a good road team,’’ Webber said. “We play so well at home, but sometimes when you get on the road and you release that pressure, it can help you a lot.’’
Overall, it was a dominant Game 3 performance by the Kings. They led for all but 16 seconds and had a .532 eFG%, per basketball reference.
What made this win more impressive was that Adelman only used seven players throughout the game. One of those players, Scot Pollard, was only on the court for 6:36. Webber, Bibby and Christie each played more than 43 minutes, despite Sacramento being up by as many as 26 in the final quarter.
You can watch the Kings highlights from the game below. Not the best quality, but you’ll be able to see just how well Sacramento played:
On to some links:
Despite being out of the postseason picture, general manager Monte McNair said Luke Walton would be back as head coach. James Ham of NBC California grades Walton’s performance last season.
Sacramento missed the playoffs for the 15th consecutive season, but there is still some Kings flavor in the postseason. Anthony Cardenas goes over 10 former Sacramento players that are helping their respective teams win a title. (Fansided)