Kings no longer queens

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

The Sacramento Kings have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for most of their first 20 years in the NBA.

But the days of being derisively referred to as "The Queens" are over.

Sacramento came into the Air Canada Centre last night with a four-game road winning streak and an impressive 20-9 record before bowing to the Raptors 96-93.

But the Kings still managed to cut an 18-point deficit after three quarters to make the game close.

With a core of key players -- Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic and former Raptor Doug Christie -- who are now in their fourth season as a unit with the team, Sacramento is considered a serious threat to win a championship this year.

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said it's hard to defend against the four veterans.

"When you look at Stojakovic, Bibby, Webber and Christie, they have been together a long time,"Mitchell said. "Those four guys really understand the offence and execute it well."

Mitchell said he was envious of the team Sacramento coach Rick Adelman has in front of him.

"Any team that can keep their core guys five, six, seven years ... they know one another, they understand one another," Mitchell said.

"They have got to be considered a team that is capable of winning an NBA championship."

Adelman said that his team simply ran out of gas last night.

"We didn't play very well, it's as simple as that," Adelman said.

CONTENDERS

The coach still thinks his team is capable of making a run at the Pacific Division title.

The Kings were playing their third game in four nights, but Adelman was not looking for excuses.

"We didn't have enough energy. We had too many flat periods," he said.

"We just waited too long to start playing."

Adelman singled out Raptor power forward Chris Bosh for particular praise in the way he played against the Kings starting five.

"Bosh was very good the whole game," he said.


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