Artest Lifts Kings to 14th Straight Home Win
Sacramento 105, Seattle 96
SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 21 (Ticker) -- With the Sacramento Kings lost on offense, Ron Artest and Mike Bibby showed them the way.
Artest scored 34 points and Bibby added 30 to lift the Kings to their 14th straight home win, a 105-96 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
"Ron was attacking the basket and getting (inside)," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "Mike was good, too. They worked well together. It was a nice all-around game."
The Kings lost a pair of road games over the weekend as Artest struggled from the field. He made just 10-of-37 shots in setbacks to Indiana and Minnesota.
Back at his new home, Artest sank 10-of-18 shots, including 3-of-4 3-pointers, and 11-of-15 free throws, falling one point shy of his career high. He also collected eight rebounds and six assists.
"I was aware of (the career high) but just thought, 'Whatever,' as long as we won the game," said Artest, who missed a pair of free throws in the final minute. "I'm getting in shape. I'm down to 255. When I came here I was 271. I'm feeling better. I'm able to move and I'll only get better."
Bibby scored 35 points in Sunday's loss and followed with another strong game. He made 9-of-20 shots, including 5-of-10 from the arc, and handed out eight assists.
"I just tried to make things happen, whether it was (my) shots or getting shots for other people," said Bibby, who notched his 13th game of 30 or more points.
The 1-2 punch helped the Kings take the lead for good early in the third quarter. But Sacramento went scoreless for the first 5 1/2 minutes of the final period as its lead dwindled to 88-87.
A follow shot by Chris Wilcox, who had 16 points and 19 rebounds, pulled Seattle within 92-89 with five minutes to go before Artest and Bibby took over. Bibby made a 17-footer while drawing a foul and sank the free throw for a 95-89 lead with 4:37 to play.
Artest answered a basket by Robert Swift with one of his own and Bibby drove through three defenders for a layup and a 99-91 bulge with 3:24 remaining.
"I thought they carried the team tonight," Seattle forward Rashard Lewis said. "We had the lead early, but Artest kept them in the game by getting to the free-throw line. In the second half Bibby finally got hot and started knocking down shots."
Seattle's Ray Allen made a 3-pointer, but Artest drained a shot from the arc, then found Bibby for a 3-pointer and a 105-94 lead with 1:38 left.
Kenny Thomas had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Brad Miller swept 14 boards for the Kings, who have won six of their last eight games. They are 16-9 since acquiring Artest from Indiana in late January and 11-0 at home, having not allowed 100 points in those games.
"At halftime, we made the adjustments and stepped up defensively and held them to 36 points in the second half," Adelman said. "We quit screwing around out there, didn't give them easy (opportunities)."
Allen scored 23 points and Rashard Lewis added 15 for the SuperSonics, who had won three of their last four games.
"They just beat us down the stretch," Allen said. "In the fourth quarter is where the game is won or lost. I thought we missed a lot of easy shots."
Seattle held a 60-58 halftime lead despite 21 points from Artest and 13 from Bibby.
Sacramento took the lead for good at 64-62 on a driving layup by Thomas. Artest beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer for an 88-82 advantage.