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KINGS, CHRISTIE TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT

Doug Christie didn't need to be told that the Sacramento Kings missed just one free throw in 32 tries.

He knew perfectly well.

"It was me," Christie said, chuckling.

Christie's only flaw was that missed free throw in the first quarter.

He had 20 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal to lead the Kings to a 115-109 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, evening the Western Conference semifinal series, 3-3. Game Seven is Saturday night in Dallas.

"I was blessed with some ability and my job is to make this team go, whatever way," Christie said. "I was just very focused and tried to do anything and everything I could."

Nick Van Exel nearly singlehandedly put Dallas into the conference finals for only the second time, scoring 35 points on 15-for-23 shooting in 37 minutes.

He leapt high for a rebound and scored on a putback with 8:16 left for a 95-94 lead, but the Mavs then didn't make another basket for 5:05.

"We had a great advantage up, 3-2," Van Exel said. "We needed to take care of this tonight. We let it slip away."

Peja Stojakovic had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who played their fourth game in the series without injured star Chris Webber. Sacramento overcame a sluggish first quarter and converted 31 of 32 free throws, including 30 straight after Christie's miss.

The Mavs remain one win away from advancing to the conference finals, while the Kings' quest for the franchise's first title in 52 years is still alive.

Dirk Nowitzki added 21 points and 12 rebounds for Dallas, while Michael Finley had 21 points, seven boards and four assists.

Reserves Bobby Jackson and Jim Jackson had 21 and 16 points, respectively, for the Kings.

Dallas, eliminated in five games by Sacramento last season, did not want to go the distance in this series after being pushed to the limit by Portland in the first round.

Webber limped helplessly around the sidelines in his designer duds and watched nervously from the edge of his seat, popping his bubble gum anxiously.

"I'm always nervous when I'm not playing," he said. "It was hard, but I knew we were going to win."

His supporting cast came through just fine, with Christie again setting the tone early -- hustling for loose balls, going hard to the glass and making big baskets. At one point in the third period, Christie gathered his crew together for a pep talk, then scored six straight points and six of his team's eight during a 10-3 run spanning two minutes.

Around the rim

Detroit guard Chauncey Billups (ankle) remains questionable for tonight's sixth game of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the 76ers in Philadelphia (7:30 p.m., ESPN). Detroit leads the series, 3-2.

Atlanta Hawks forward Glenn Robinson was found guilty on domestic battery and assault charges for shoving his former fiancee, Jonta French, in her house last July. He was sentenced to one year conditional discharge, which is a form of probation.

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