7:00 PM ET, January 17, 2006
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Coach Rick Adelman had little to do in the fourth quarter while the Sacramento Kings put the final touches on a shockingly one-sided win over first-place Phoenix.
Adelman did all his best work last week, when he finally convinced his players to play the intense defense that led to a blowout of the high-scoring Suns.
Kevin Martin scored a career-high 25 points, rookie Francisco Garcia added career-bests of 21 points and 10 rebounds, and the injury-depleted Kings improbably handed the Suns their biggest loss of the season, 119-90 on Tuesday night.
Kenny Thomas had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Mike Bibby added 19 before sitting out the final 10½ minutes of the Kings' most encouraging win in weeks. Brad Miller had 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Kings, who hit a season-high 12 3-pointers and passed superbly without injured starters Peja Stojakovic, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Bonzi Wells.
For all his team's offensive pyrotechnics, Adelman was most pleased by its canny, lapse-free defense against the NBA's highest-scoring team, which never got comfortable in its inventive offense.
During last week's road trip, Adelman distributed DVD anthologies of his players' defensive miscues this season -- and they're clearly learning their digital lessons.
"(The Kings) were ready to play, they were active, they moved the ball," Adelman said. "But more importantly, we really followed our game plan defensively. ... You hope it's going to be a learning experience for these guys so they can understand that they can win and they can beat good teams. I'm hoping that's going to be a really good jump-start."
Though the Suns are the Pacific Division's new power, the Kings still showed some pride in their disappointing season: The Suns were beaten for the 10th time in their last 11 visits to Sacramento.
Shawn Marion scored 25 points and Raja Bell added 19 for the Suns, who fell behind by 24 points in a dismal first half and eventually lost in regulation for the first time since Dec. 23 while making just 37.5 percent of their shots -- matching their worst percentage of the season.
"We came out on our heels, and they just stuck it to us," Marion said. "They had their eyes wide open and kept on hitting shots. There is only so much you can do when a team heats up like that."
Phoenix won nine of its last 11 to take over first place, but had none of its usual offensive effectiveness against the Kings. Reigning MVP Steve Nash managed just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting and eight assists for the Suns, who hadn't lost by more than 12 points all season.
"We didn't want to play tonight," Nash said. "You can't really say why. You never know. It just sometimes happens when you play as many games as we do. We didn't play any defense, which got their confidence going, and it turned out to be one of those nights when we couldn't make anything."
Martin, a second-year shooting guard, increased his career high for the fifth time already this season with four 3-pointers and two impressive alley-oop dunks on passes from Bibby and Miller. Garcia was just as impressive, hitting two 3s and playing strong defense against Nash.
"We're learning from our mistakes," Garcia said. "(The coaches) got on us pretty hard on our mistakes. They're getting tired of ... seeing us make the same mistakes."
With retired center Vlade Divac watching from courtside, the Kings rolled off an 18-4 run in the final 3:02 of the first quarter. Bibby, who scored a career-best 42 points in Sunday's win over Orlando, hit two 3s in an uptempo offense more effective than the Suns' scheme.
Sacramento methodically increased its lead in the second while the Suns went more than 6 minutes between field goals.
"It was a lot of fun," Miller said. "To win really lifts our spirits against a team like Phoenix. Holding Phoenix to 90 points is pretty tough to do., and it just really fueled everybody."
The Kings led 65-43 after probably their best first half of the year, earning a standing ovation from the sellout crowd that has booed them regularly this season. Sacramento made nearly 58 percent of its shots and hit six 3-pointers while soundly beating the Suns on the boards and in transition with a dazzling display.
Sacramento took its first 30-point lead on Thomas' dunk to open the fourth quarter, then coasted to its third victory in four games.
Nash scored fewer than 10 points for just the third time this season, sitting out the final 14:38. Kurt Thomas played 24 minutes, but went scoreless for just the second time all year.
Adelman is cautiously hopeful all three injured starters will be in practice Wednesday, though they might not be ready to get back in uniform. ... Suns G Eddie House, who scored seven points, spent last season with the Kings and Bibby, his brother-in-law. ... Divac, who spent six seasons with the Kings, got a lengthy standing ovation.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||33-88 (.375)||45-88 (.511)|
|3PM-3PA||6-23 (.261)||12-24 (.500)|
|FTM-FTA||18-23 (.783)||17-21 (.810)|
|Fast Break Points||18||8|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||21 (0/0)||19 (0/0)|