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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Put new, “classic” uniforms on the same old Sonics and what you get is … another loss.
Vin Baker had 20 points and Gary Payton had 18 points and 13 assists in Tuesday night’s season opener, but the Seattle SuperSonics couldn’t handle their Pacific Division foes and fell 101-95 to the Sacramento Kings.
The Sonics debuted their new old-look uniforms, a variation of the green-and-gold outfits worn during the franchise’s founding seasons.
Vlade Divac scored 27 points and Mike Bibby had 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Sacramento.
Peja Stojakovic scored 26 points as the Kings, who will be without injured Chris Webber for the near future, barely held off Seattle with the combined efforts of a seven-man rotation.
The biggest contribution came from Divac, who also had eight rebounds and eight assists while running the floor and banging inside with vigor. Bibby, acquired in an offseason trade for Jason Williams, quickly became a crowd favorite, particularly when he scored seven points in the final 63 seconds of the third quarter.
Sacramento led by seven after Doug Christie, who missed nine of his first 10 shots, dunked with 1:57 left. Payton cut the lead to 98-93 with a layup, but Christie stripped the ball from Payton with 43 seconds left, and Stojakovic hit three free throws in the final 17 seconds.
Sacramento never managed to break open a tight, choppy game. Neither team led by more than nine points, and the Kings struggled to find the rhythm that made them the league’s highest-scoring team in the past two seasons.
The Kings’ disjointed effort must be due partly to the absence of Webber, the All-NBA forward who sprained his ankle during the preseason. Webber, who signed a $122.7 million contract in the offseason, watched the game in a sharp gray suit.
Scot Pollard, who has a shaved head in place of his familiar long hair, replaced Webber in the Kings’ starting lineup and got nine rebounds in 35 minutes. Stojakovic also had nine rebounds.
Coach Rick Adelman showed off several possible methods of replacing Webber in the Kings’ rotation. Bibby and his backup, Bobby Jackson, played together for a stretch, and Christie joined them at other times in a three-guard lineup.
Brent Barry had 16 points and nine rebounds for Seattle.
Baker and Calvin Booth both shook off minor injuries to start for Seattle, which has missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons.
Seattle’s Rashard Lewis left the game early in the third quarter with an apparent shoulder injury, though he stayed on the Sonics’ bench.