Bee: Adelman half-time talk energizes Kings

Adelman's halftime talk finally energizes Kings

Adelman's halftime talk finally energizes Kings

By Martin McNeal -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PDT Sunday, October 24, 2004

There was no surprise to learn that Kings coach Rick Adelman had a minor message, even if it is the preseason, to deliver to his team at halftime Saturday night.

Whether the message figured in the end result - a 92-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets at Arco Arena - is irrelevant. Something kicked into the Kings' psyches, and they turned around a performance that was even uglier than the stormy weather.

The Kings trailed by 12 points in the first half to a Hornets squad that was playing without its starting backcourt of point guard Baron Davis (strained left ankle) and shooting guard David Wesley (strained right hamstring).

In the end, though, Sacramento scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter, led by Peja Stojakovic and Chris Webber, and pulled away from the Hornets, whose coach, Byron Scott, also is looking at a number of players in an attempt to pare his roster.

Sacramento's offense wasn't even a shell of its former self during the first two quarters, and it wasn't because Vlade Divac now plays with the Los Angeles Lakers and Doug Christie can't play because of inflamed foot tissue. It was terrible because the players running it - Stojakovic, Webber, Brad Miller and Mike Bibby - weren't performing with much energy. Rookie Kevin Martin, who started in Christie's place, gets some slack because he was in North Carolina last year.

Adelman said he had a hard time believing what he was seeing in the first half.

"I understand we're playing a lot of guys," said the coach, who sliced that number by three after the game when he released free-agent guards Liu Wei and Tony Bland and center Anwar Ferguson.

"Like I said at halftime, we don't go from having the offense we had last year, I don't care who we are playing, to play like we were playing. We had no energy at either end of the court.

"We didn't make hard cuts, and we didn't play hard. In the second half, we took it up another notch, and we got something out of it. We know our offense is very good, if we do it right. It's like any other offense. It's not very good if you just go through the motions.

"But I think we accomplished what we wanted to (Saturday night). We wanted to play guys extended minutes. I wanted to get them a good run, and fortunately, we won the game, too."

Stojakovic, who with Webber had the night off Friday while their teammates played the Jazz in Utah, had game highs of 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who outscored the Hornets 26-15 in the fourth quarter.

Webber could not get his jump hook to fall and made only 6 of 17 shots on the way to 15 points. He also had nine rebounds, a team-high-tying five assists and a game-high four steals.

Webber said he definitely heard Adelman's halftime words.

"We didn't say anything at halftime," the power forward said. "Coach said it. He wanted us to pick it up, and I know I tried to do that defensively and in terms of assists and steals. He spoke to us, and I think it made a difference."

Said Adelman: "I told Peja that's what he gets after taking a night off - 42 minutes. But I thought he was terrific, and he got stronger as the game went on. That's important." Notes - Backup center Greg Ostertag said he hopes to have protective covering on his fractured right hand removed sometime this week. ... J.R. Smith, the Hornets rookie from St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.), had the play of the game, even if referees Bernie Fryer, Monty McCutcheon and Eric Lewis did miss the goaltending violation. Smith came up from behind and pinned a layup attempt by Kings guard Maurice Evans against the glass before snatching it down with two hands.