SuperSonics 110, Kings 94
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ It took one unstoppable quarter by Shawn Kemp to revitalize the Seattle SuperSonics and _ at least temporarily _ end their offensive slump.
Kemp scored 16 of his 31 points in the first quarter, and the Sonics hit five key 3-pointers in the second half of a 110-94 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night. Kemp had 25 points by halftime.
``The way Shawn was playing the first half, we didn’t have to do much. He was just killing them down low,″ Sonics forward Detlef Schrempf said. ``The first half, Shawn was unstoppable.″
Kemp shot 13-for-16 overall, and Seattle never trailed after the game’s opening six minutes.
Gary Payton had 21 points, nine assists and four steals, while Hersey Hawkins added 19 points, including three 3-pointers, for Seattle.
Seattle entered the game shooting just 43 percent and hitting 28 percent of its 3-pointers. The Sonics shot 60 percent Monday night, including 40 percent from behind the 3-point line.
``It’s the best offense we’ve played all year,″ Sonics coach George Karl said. ``Shawn Kemp had an unbelievable game. He carried us tonight. Shawn’s presence, his enthusiasm, his energy was very dominating out there. In the second half, we fortunately had a big enough lead to hold on.″
Mitch Richmond led the Kings with 28 points, while Michael Smith had 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. But the Kings sorely missed forward Brian Grant, who was sidelined with a strained right shoulder.
``I think our defense wasn’t as intense as it was in the last two ballgames, and that really hurt us,″ Richmond said. ``We felt we had a chance to get in the game, but we just missed shots or made turnovers.″
Whenever the Kings threatened to get close in the second half, the Sonics hit a 3-pointer to destroy Sacramento’s momentum.
``Every time we made a run, they took care of business,″ Kings coach Garry St. Jean said. ``We failed to respond in the fashion we needed to.″
Grant’s absence forced the Kings to move Olden Polynice to power forward and start Duane Causwell in Polynice’s place at center.
Kemp overwhelmed Causwell in the opening quarter with three backboard-shaking dunks among his eight baskets. Kemp added nine more points in the second period as the Sonics took a 55-44 halftime lead.
Seattle built an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter. The Kings closed to 76-66 with less than two minutes left in the period, but Sam Perkins and Craig Ehlo hit 3-pointers and Kemp dunked on an alley-oop as the Sonics took an 84-68 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Kings scored two quick baskets to open the final period, but Perkins hit another 3-pointer and the Sonics increased their margin to 21 points. The Kings later got the deficit down to 12 points, but Hawkins hit a 3-pointer and the Sonics were not threatened again.
Notes: Richmond moved past Wayne Embry into eighth place on the Kings-Royals career scoring list. Richmond, who has 8,487 points in six seasons with the Kings, is third on the franchise list with an average of 22.8 points. He passed Embry in total points on a layup with 3:24 left in the game. ... The Sonics have won 38 of their 50 regular-season games against Sacramento since the 1985-86 season. ... The Kings play 10 of their next 12 games on the road, starting with a game Wednesday night at Utah. ... Kemp’s 31 points were the most scored by a Sonics player this season.