Sacramento 86, Chicago 77

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A four-game winning streak has the revived Sacramento Kings making headway in the Western Conference standings.

Kevin Martin scored 29 points, Mike Bibby had 21 and the Kings defeated the Chicago Bulls 86-77 Thursday night.

Frustrated after a series of losses in tight games through much of January, the Kings are winning again and keeping tabs on the standings. Sacramento is in 11th place, just two games out of the conference's eighth and final playoff spot.

"We're always keeping our eye on the standings," Martin said. "We have a lot of veterans on this team that know how to play. We have some more games to play, we won't be thinking about the All-Star break until it comes."

The win streak matched its longest of the season and gave Sacramento its fifth straight victory at home, where it had struggled through the first half of the season.

"Players are feeling good about themselves and where they are right now," said Kings coach Eric Musselman, who was back after serving a two-game suspension for driving under the influence.

Clinging to a four-point lead, Bibby made consecutive jumpers to stretch the Kings' advantage to 80-72 with 2:24 remaining. The Bulls could never get any closer than five points the rest of the way in losing their second straight game.

The Bulls shot a season-low 33 percent and lost despite a 56-44 rebounding edge and having 25 second-chance points to one for Sacramento.

"Yes, in this league that is strange," Chicago's Ben Wallace of the rebounding dominance. "You just have to look at our field goal attempts and know that we weren't converting our shots."

Ron Artest had 10 points and eight rebounds, while Brad Miller added 11 rebounds and six assists for the Kings, who had 20 turnovers.

Luol Deng had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Kirk Hinrich scored 18 points for Chicago, which has dropped eight straight games at Arco Arena, dating back to Nov. 23, 1997.

Chris Duhon had nine points and Ben Wallace had 13 rebounds. Ben Gordon, the Bulls' leading scorer, missed all eight first-half shots and finished 3-for-16 with seven points.

"Ben had one of those nights that he usually doesn't have," Martin said.

The Bulls are in the midst of a seven-game road trip that concludes Sunday in Phoenix. The road has not been a friendly place this year for Chicago, which is 8-16 away from home.

"The team hasn't been home since Jan. 27, it's wearing the team down," Deng said. "It's just a road trip. We've still got to go out there and get it done and finish the trip."

Martin scored 13 points as the Kings led 37-35 at the half. The Bulls went cold in the second quarter, getting outscored 19-12 and shooting 30 percent in the opening half.

Notes: Headed for a breakaway dunk in the fourth quarter, Chicago rookie Tyrus Thomas turned his ankle and missed the shot, left the game, but did return with under a minute to go. ... The Bulls were the third team the Kings have played this week that has owned losing streaks of nine or more years at Arco Arena. ... Kings owners, Gavin and Joe Maloof, were giving out All-Star shirts and jackets to fans during the game. The Maloof-owned Palms Casino in Las Vegas will be home base for the players at next week's All-Star Game.


Copyright 2006 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited