The Arizona Republic
Sacramento waits until that last quarter to send them home losers, 107-102.
By BOB YOUNG
The Arizona Republic
SACRAMENTO – For three quarters last night, the Phoenix Suns looked like the team everybody expected them to be this season, and in one of the most difficult places to win in the league – Sacramento’s ARCO Arena.
Shawn Marion was electric. Stephon Marbury was unguardable. The ball moved. Players moved. They forced turnovers and converted easy baskets.
It was all too good to be true.
The Kings turned the tables in the fourth quarter, limiting the Suns to 10 points – two more than the franchise all-time low for points in a quarter – and rallied from 13 down going into the fourth to beat the Suns 107-102.
“We’re taking baby steps right now,” Phoenix veteran center Scott Williams said. “It’s a matter of sustaining it for a whole ballgame.”
When the Kings turned up their defensive effort in the fourth quarter, the Suns stopped moving the ball. And they stopped moving without the ball.
Instead of an eye-opening upset, the Suns left Arco with their sixth straight loss and ninth setback in their last 10 games.
Marion led the Suns with a season-high 32 points, but he had only four of those in the fourth quarter. Marbury finished with 22 points and made only one of 10 shots in the final period.
The Kings, meanwhile, got 36 points from forward Peja Stojakovic, who had nine of them in the fourth quarter.
The Suns were sailing into a basketball version of the perfect storm.
They were playing the second game of a back-to-back set. It was on the road at notoriously tough Arco. And the Kings are not only one of the league’s best teams – if not the best – they have lost only once all season on their own floor.
“All the things we did to them in the first three quarters, they reversed it on us,” said guard Penny Hardaway.
Despite the fourth-quarter meltdown, the Suns sounded as though, if they haven’t turned a corner, at least they know where it’s at now.
“Obviously, we just kind of laid an egg in the fourth quarter,” said coach Mike D’Antoni. “We have some things to build on, and go from there.”
Knicks 89, Wizards 87: At New York, Kurt Thomas put aside his anger about losing his starting job and drew a key charging foul with 15.6 seconds left to help New York beat Washington.
Allan Houston tied his season high with 39 points, scoring 11 in the fourth quarter as the Knicks ran almost every play for him.
SuperSonics 108, Bucks 102: At Seattle, Ronald Murray scored 23 points and rookie Richie Frahm added a career-high 17, leading the SuperSonics to a comeback victory.
Vladimir Radmanovic also had 17 points for the Sonics, who trailed by 18 in the first half.
Heat 90, Raptors 89: At Toronto, Dwyane Wade scored 23 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 28 seconds left, and had a key block on Vince Carter to lead Miami to its third straight victory.
Jazz 94, 76ers 86: At Philadelphia, Andrei Kirilenko scored 30 points and Matt Harpring added 27 for Utah.
The 76ers played without Allen Iverson, the NBA’s leading scorer at 28.9 points per game. He sat out for the second time in three games because of swelling in his right knee.
How former UA players fare in the NBA yesterday
Yesterday Season Averages
Player, team Vs. Pts. Reb. Ast. Pts. Reb. Ast
Gilbert Arenas, Wizards No game – - – 20.0 4.8 5.4
Mike Bibby, Kings Suns (W) 10 1 6 16.9 3.6 5.9
Richard Jefferson, Nets No game – - – 15.6 5.9 3.5
Chris Mills, Celtics Injured – - – 0.0 0.0 0.0
Sean Rooks, Hornets No game – - – 2.4 1.5 0.3
D. Stoudamire, Blazers No game – - – 13.6 3.6 6.2
Jason Terry, Hawks No game – - – 18.4 4.5 5.3
Luke Walton, Lakers No game – - – 1.9 0.7 0.8
Loren Woods, Heat Raptors/DNP – - – 3.4 3.6 0.2
PHOTO CAPTION: The Associated Press
Phoenix Suns guard Stephon Marbury (center) drives through Kings defenders Brad Miller (left) and Doug Christie during last night’s game.