Artest, Kings Down Visiting Denver
Sacramento 98, Denver 91
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 31 (Ticker) -- Kevin Martin and Ron Artest led the way to help the Sacramento Kings keep a good thing going.
Martin tied a career high with 25 points off the bench and Artest added 19 in Arco Arena debut with his new team as the Kings won their 19th consecutive home game against the Denver Nuggets with a 98-91 triumph.
"We needed (a win) bad," Artest said. "One thing I like about this team is guys have confidence in each other. This was another test, but we were at home this time. I'm in better shape. This game was more comfortable (for me) and it's going to get better."
"Ever since I've been here, this is one of the toughest places to play," Nuggets center Marcus Camby said. "The crowd is always on you. It's frustrating. We won (here) in preseason, but that doesn't count. Now we'll have to wait until next year to break the streak."
Martin scored 16 points in the second quarter. He sank a pair of 3-pointers that provided the spark in a 17-8 run bridging the first two periods that put the Kings in front, 32-27.
"The beginning of the year was like a rookie year to me," Martin said. "I was kind of (wondering) what my role was. But after starting the past 20 games, I definitely know my role is to score. That's what I've got to bring off the bench. I have to do what I did tonight."
"(Kevin Martin) came in, he was aggressive and he made shots," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "If we're going to be successful, we're going to need those guys to step up off the bench. He really gave us a lift in the second quarter."
Earl Boykins' jumper with 7:33 remaining pulled Denver within 80-77. Sacramento answered when Mike Bibby nailed a 19-foot jumper and Kenny Thomas hit a layup with 6:33 to go.
After Greg Buckner made a shot from the arc with 5:58 left to cut the deficit to 84-80, Martin sank a 3-pointer and Artest hit a driving layup with 5:05 to play.
Coming off a 24-point outing in Sunday's loss at Toronto, Artest made 7-of-19 shots and helped the Kings to their first victory in three contests since he was acquired Wednesday from Indiana.
"(Artest) just gets the job done," Martin said. "That's the only way I can put it. It's just the way he plays, the way he approaches the game. It's something we need."
Artest was welcomed to Arco Arena with a standing ovation when the starting lineups were announced and several more for his hustle on the court.
"(The fans) understand that we're trying to make the playoffs," Artest said. "In order to do that, we're gonna need our fans. Now we have to go on the road and show some toughness on the road."
Boykins missed two 3-pointers in the final minute as Denver hit just 21 percent (3-of-14) from the arc and did not make a basket in the last 3:11.
"I think we are all a little disappointed with our performance," Boykins said.
Bibby and Thomas scored 15 points each for Sacramento. Bonzi Wells grabbed 14 rebounds in his return after missing 19 games with a groin injury.
Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points, Kenyon Martin had 21 and 11 rebounds and Camby 12 and 13 for the Nuggets, who have lost three in a row following a season-high seven-game winning streak.
"They made plays, we didn't," Kenyon Martin said. "We just didn't make enough shots in order to win. We've just got to keep playing and not get down. That's all we can do."
Kings center Brad Miller did not play after suffering a fractured right thumb early in Sunday's game at Toronto and is listed as day-to-day.