In Sports from United Press International

May 28, 2002 at 2:56 PM
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Pivotal Game Five for Kings, Lakers

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 28 (UPI) -- The Sacramento Kings try to brush off the disappointment of a tough loss Sunday when they host the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night in Game Five of the NBA Western Conference finals.

Sacramento was on the verge of grabbing a 3-1 lead series, but blew a 24-point lead in a 100-99 loss in Game Four that evened the series at two games apiece. The Lakers never led until a three-pointer by Robert Horry at the buzzer.

Despite the loss, Sacramento retains plenty of confidence. Kings guard Bobby Jackson even has claimed that the Lakers are "scared" of playing his team.

"We've got a world of confidence," said Kings point guard Mike Bibby. "I think you can see that by the way we've been playing. We've got the little swagger and feel like nobody can (mess) with us. And I don't think anybody can."

The Kings built a 40-20 lead after one quarter on Sunday but were stifled in the final three quarters by tremendous defense by Los Angeles. Vlade Divac scored 23 points and Bibby added 21, but Bibby managed just two points in the fourth quarter as he was defended by Kobe Bryant.

Shaquille O'Neal collected 27 points and 18 rebounds and Bryant added 25 points on 12-of-26 shooting as the Lakers' dynamic duo kept the team close in the second half. Horry added 18 points and 14 rebounds as Los Angeles ended Sacramento's five-game road playoff winning streak.

Divac left the door open by making 1-of-2 foul shots with 11 seconds left for a 99-97 lead. Bryant drove to the basket and missed and O'Neal missed a follow shot. Divac tapped the ball out to an open Horry, who drained his shot from beyond the arc as time expired.

The Lakers also avoided a three-game losing streak, which would have been the first in the playoffs by a team coached by Phil Jackson.

The biggest adjustment the Kings will have to make is when Bryant guards Bibby, who has been the key to the team's success. Bryant's long arms and quick feet present a problem for the

6-2 Bibby.

Sacramento will again be without All-Star forward Peja Stojakovic, who has yet to make an appearance in the series. He has been nursing a severely-sprained right ankle. The team has indicated that he might be ready for Game Six on Friday, which will be played in Los Angeles.

"He'll work out (today) in the morning and before the game," said Sacramento Coach Rick Adelman. "I think we have two days between games, and I'd think he'd be possible for Friday."

Seles moves on at Roland Garros

PARIS, May 28 (UPI) -- Battling the rainy conditions as much as their foes, last year's runnerup, Kim Clijsters, and three-time champion Monica Seles advanced Tuesday to the second round at Roland Garros.

But one of last year's semifinalist, fifth-seeded Justin Henin of Belgium, fell to Hungarian qualifier Aniko Kapros, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0, under drizzly skies.

After taking a sizable lead to start the match, Henin had a hard time closing out the first set and suffered a complete collapse to the 179th-ranked player in the world in the next two sets. She was wearing a brace on her left thigh and was visited by the trainer while trailing, 4-1, in the second set. Henin was considered a favorite to reach the final weekend at this event after winning the German Open and appearing in the finals in Rome before arriving in Paris.

"I was sick two days already," Henin said. "I wanted to play, I wanted to fight and I didn't retire because this is my personality. I had fever and I couldn't breathe easy. I felt tired and I couldn't move."

Clijsters, the fourth seed, made her first appearance here since she lost to Jennifer Capriati, 1-6, 6-4, 12-10, in the longest third set ever at a French Open women's final. The native of Belgium overcame Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6, in just under two hours.

"The conditions were very tough today," Clijsters said. "It makes the court a lot heavier and a faster clay court suits me better. You don't know what to do. It's hard when you're waiting in the lockerroom. I'm due to get a few free points on my serve and today I didn't get as many. I think it was because the court was a bit heavier. It was tough with the rain and the wind."

The match was one of several that was scheduled for Monday, but postponed due to rain and darkness. It was stopped for over an hour with Clijsters leading, 2-1, in the third set.

"I was actually really, really looking forward to getting out there and get the atmosphere," Clijsters said. "And then they cancelled me yesterday. It's not easy. You're schedule just goes. You're not eating right. I had dinner really late yesterday because they cancelled me at 7:30, and it wasn't the perfect preparation to have a match at 11 (in the morning). But there's not much you can do."

Seles rallied past Angeles Montolio of Spain, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-0, after dropping the first five games of the match.

"I wasn't ready for the conditions. They really surprised me," said Seles, who did not play the French last year because of injury but claimed a warmup event last week in Madrid. "I wasn't thinking ahead of time (for) my racket tension. The balls were coming back different than Madrid. I haven't really played two years on red clay, besides Madrid. Madrid was a very different altitude and (96 degrees). I was used to hitting winners. Today my winners were not being hit."

The 26-year-old Seles did not drop a game after the rain delay at 3-3 in the second set.

"I just refocused," she said. "In the beginning, I was being very negative with myself. You can't do that. I think I just calmed down and started to play my game a little bit."

Seles improved to 51-6 lifetime at Roland Garros and has never lost before the quarterfinals in nine career appearances.

Capriati begins defense of her French Open crown against American Marissa Irwin.

On clay this season, Capriati has reached the semifinals at Charleston and at the German and Italian Opens.

On the men's side, in a match postponed from Monday, No. 5 seed and 1996 champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov snapped a six-match losing streak with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1 victory over German qualifier Tomas Behrend.

Also, sixth-seeded Tim Henman of Britain beat Spain's Galo Blanco, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

'Canes try to close out Leafs

TORONTO, May 28 (UPI) -- Toronto Coach Pat Quinn said he is fit to fly to North Carolina for Game Seven of the NHL Eastern Conference finals. But first, there's the small matter of winning Game Six Tuesday night.

The Maple Leafs will have their coach back behind the bench Tuesday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in another must-win game.

With Quinn back in Toronto recovering from an irregular heartbeat, the Leafs held on for a 1-0 in Game Five, improving to 4-0 in elimination games this year. The Maple Leafs survived a third period that was dominated by the Hurricanes.

Curtis Joseph made 15 of his 27 saves over the final 20 minutes and tied Clint Benedict for second place on the all-time list with his 15th career playoff shutout.

Joseph has had to be on his game because Toronto has scored just five goals in the first five games of the series.

While the Hurricanes failed to close out the series at home, history is on their side. Carolina wrapped up each of the first two rounds on the road in Game Six, eliminating New Jersey and Montreal.

At practice Monday, Maurice had a brief conversation with Rod Brind'Amour. Carolina's dominant unit in the first two rounds, the BBC Line of Brind'Amour, Bates Battaglia and rookie Erik Cole has failed to score in this series.

Wisconsin WR Evans has knee surgery

MADISON, Wis., May 28 (UPI) -- Wisconsin wide receiver Lee Evans has undergone successful surgery on his left knee.

Evans sustained ligament damage in his left knee while making a catch in the spring football game on April 20. He will undergo an intensive two-week rehabilitation period beginning as soon as possible.

At the time of the injury, it was felt that his playing status for this fall was in doubt. However, the doctor who did the procedure would not commit to that.

"The surgery went well," Denny Helwig, who will be entering his 18th season as the Badgers' football trainer, the Capital Times. "He's moving his legs and he's working on his rehab."

Evans set a Big Ten Conference record for receiving yards in a season in 2001 with 75 receptions for 1,545 yards. He was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver.

Since he played as a true freshman in 1999, Evans does have the option of redshirting next season and returning for his fourth year of eligibility in 2003.

"We have a job to do and Lee will still be a big part of that," said quarterback Jim Sorgi. "If he does come back, we'll gladly welcome him back. And if he's not out there, he'll be on the sidelines rooting us on."

England gets Beckham in fold

SAITAMA, Japan, May 28 (UPI) -- David Beckham, the England captain and 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year finalist, looks set to start for his country against Sweden on June 2 in its opening match of the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, said Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson on Tuesday.

Eriksson, a Swede, expressed confidence after consulting with England's medical staff. He seemed doubtful for the Group F clash after breaking a bone in his left foot on April 10 in Manchester United's quarterfinal second-leg match against Deportivo Coruna in the Champions League.

That began a flood of English injuries, which sidelined midfielders Steven Gerrard and Danny Murphy, and defender Gary Neville for the duration of the world's biggest single-sport

event. Eriksson also has been forced to contend with injuries to goalkeeper David Seaman and midfielders Nicky Butt and Kieron Dyer.

Considered by many the finest free-kick specialist in the world, Beckham propelled the 1966 World Cup winners into the 2002 competition, which begins Friday. On Oct. 6, Beckham curled home an injury-time free kick to lift England into a 2-2 home draw with Greece and into the World Cup.

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