Artest leads Kings past struggling Blazers


The Sacramento Kings didn't need long to adjust to playing without Mike Bibby, and Ron Artest led the way.

Artest scored 24 points and the Kings snapped a three-game losing streak with a 105-94 victory Tuesday night over the Portland Trail Blazers.

"We just don't want to be a rollover type of team, so we're making a push," Artest proclaimed. "We're not out until they say we're out."

Sacramento (24-28) was playing its first game without Bibby, who was traded over the weekend to the Atlanta Hawks for point guards Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue, 2006 first-round pick Shelden Williams, veteran forward Lorenzen Wright and a 2008 second-round pick.

Travis Outlaw had 23 points for the flat Blazers (28-25), who lost their fifth straight &

matching their longest losing streak of the season.

"We just couldn't handle Artest," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We did everything on him. We tried to front him. Brandon (Roy) started on him, then Travis picked him up and Martell (Webster) also. Then we zoned. But he kept finding his teammates and went hard to the basket and we couldn't stop him."

Portland trailed by as many as nine points early in the fourth quarter, but closed to within 74-73 on Webster's 3-pointer. Portland went ahead on Outlaw's off-balance layup under pressure and free throw.

It was short-lived, and Artest's 3-pointer put the Kings back in front 77-76.

The Blazers were hurt when Webster was called for a technical foul. Kevin Martin made two of three shots to put the Kings up 93-88 with 3:54 to go.

Outlaw's jumper got the Blazers within 96-92, but Artest made a hard-fought tip shot and Martin added a pair of free throws with 1:34 to go to put the Kings up 100-92.

Francisco Garcia had 23 points and Martin added 21 points for the Kings, who were coming off Wednesday's 89-87 loss in Houston before the All-Star break.

"This is a big win. After the trade, we feel like we have our team," Martin said. "We have to continue to build after tonight, starting tomorrow."

Roy, Portland's second-year player who had 18 points and nine rebounds as an All-Star reserve, scored just 11 points while battling a chest infection. Webster was the Blazers' second-highest scorer with 18 points.

The Kings held Portland at bay in the second quarter until Steve Blake's step back jumper put Portland briefly ahead 43-42.

Portland went up 57-51 early in the second half before Sacramento's Martin went on a tear, and led the Kings on a 17-4 run that put them ahead 68-61.

Martin, who went 1-of-5 from the floor in the first half, had 13 points in the third quarter alone.

The 11-point loss was Portland's biggest margin at home this season. The Blazers are 20-7 at the Rose Garden.

"We've got less than 30 games to go and we've got to get back on one of those streaks and get our confidence back," center Joel Przybilla said.

Notes: The Trail Blazers welcomed the 10 millionth fan to the Rose Garden on Tuesday night. The building was opened in 1995. The fan and a guest were moved to courtside seats for the game and received an autographed basketball, among other gifts. ... The Kings host the Hawks &

and Bibby &

on Wednesday night. ... The Blazers are 70-16 against the Kings in Portland. ... Bibby, a 10-year veteran, missed the start of the season with a thumb injury but averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 assists in 15 games with the Kings.

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