Artest Helps Kings Run Past Clippers
Sacramento 106, L.A. Clippers 96
SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 2 (Ticker) -- The Sacramento Kings continue to play like royalty against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ron Artest scored 26 points and Brad Miller added 25 as the Kings maintained their recent domination of the Clippers with a 106-96 victory.
"It's just kind of frustrating, somehow we can never get these guys," Clippers center Chris Kaman said. "I don't know if it's mental, obviously too many turnovers tonight was a big thing. I had five myself in the first half, that's just unacceptable. We're not preparing ourselves the right way for the playoffs like we need to. We've got to step it up."
"We shot the ball really well," said Sacramento coach Rick Adelman, who saw his team jump out to a 9-0 advantage in the first three minutes. "I think if you're making shots, it makes a big difference. We moved the ball well and had 26 assists. It was just a solid win from the start."
The Kings shot better than 50 percent for most of the game before settling at 49 percent (40-for-82). But it was their defense, which held an opponent below 100 points for the 13th straight game, that decided the contest. Sacramento forced 22 turnovers, including two critical shot-clock violations in the final five minutes, to help overcome a 54-31 rebounding disadvantage.
"We moved the ball a little better, we hung in there and played through fatigue, so that's a positive for us," Artest said. "They killed us on the boards, but that's the game of basketball. There's always something else you can do to win the game."
Sam Cassell and Kaman scored 20 points apiece to pace Los Angeles (42-30), which leads Memphis by one game for fifth place in the West.
"I thought we just played a bad game," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Physically we were there, mentally we weren't. We had 22 turnovers for 27 points and gave up seven offensive boards. We have 10 games to figure it out."
Miller scored 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first half, and Artest added 11 points in the opening 24 minutes as the Kings carried a 52-43 lead into the break.
"(My shot) has been coming around the last couple games," Miller said. "So you just feel a lot more aggressive when you're in a comfortable zone. Obviously, the games are really important right now, not just to stay in the playoffs but trying to move up."
Meanwhile, Elton Brand and Cuttino Mobley combined to shoot 3-of-12 in the first half for the Clippers, who shot only 40 percent (17-of-42) and committed 14 turnovers before intermission.
The Clippers grabbed their only lead of the game just over four minutes into the second half when Mobley hit a 3-pointer that capped a 16-6 spurt for a 59-58 lead. But Artest, who is better known for his defense, answered with eight consecutive points to give Sacramento the lead for good.
Los Angeles got within 92-86 on a short jumper by Shaun Livingston with 6:43 to play. But Shareef Abdur-Rahim answered with a layup and Artest followed with a 3-pointer shortly thereafter to restore a 10-point lead.
Abdur-Rahim finished with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting for the Kings, who won their third straight game despite getting outrebounded, 54-31.
"I'm just trying to come in and contribute," said Abdur-Rahim, who has shot 65 percent (31-of-48) over the last five games. "Coming in off the bench is somewhat different than starting. You have to try to get things done at a quicker pace and with less time."