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Kings jump out early, cruise to easy win over Bulls

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Although Peja Stojakovic is gone, the
Sacramento Kings still have a dangerous outside shooter.

Kevin Martin scored 20 of his 23 points in the first half,
leading the Kings to a 98-80 victory over the Chicago Bulls on
Thursday night.

Mike Bibby scored 20 points, Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 15 and Brad
Miller 11 for the Kings, who have won seven straight at home after
some uncharacteristically poor play at home in the first half of
the season.

Martin, a second-year guard, ignited the Kings in the first
half. He made three 3-pointers and helped limit the hot-shooting
Ben Gordon to two points as Sacramento took a 51-32 lead into
halftime.

"Kevin is coming out aggressive and taking the shots that are
there," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We see it every day, now
he's just transferring it from practice to the games."

In the short term, Martin has made up for the loss of
Stojakovic, who was traded to the Indiana Pacers in late January
for Ron Artest. Martin has made 14 of his last 22 3-point attempts
and scored 20 or more points in six of his last nine games.

"My confidence has been high for quite some time," said
Martin, who has been starting for injured Bonzi Wells. "I'm just
glad I got off to a good start. I'm still being aggressive and
taking the open shot and that's what I'm going to continue to do."

Against the Bulls, Martin made six of 11 shots, hit four
3-pointers and had eight rebounds. The Kings led by 20 or more
points throughout most of the second half.

Playing with more defensive focus and hustle since the Artest
trade, Sacramento held the Bulls to under 20 points in each of the
first three quarters in building a 77-49 lead. The Kings are 4-3
since the acquisition of Artest and have held six of seven teams
under 100 points.

Playing with a sore hip that has limited his movement, Artest
still finished with nine points, seven assists and six rebounds.

"I'm working with what I've got, that's what I've got to go
with," Artest said. "I'm not 100 percent, but it's fine. I can
still play defense, still pass and do other things."

The road-weary Bulls shot 30 percent in the first half and
finished at a season-low 33 percent overall. A difficult seven-game
road trip, its longest of the year, concludes Sunday against the
Los Angeles Clippers. Chicago is 1-5 on the trip.

In an attempt to find the right combination, Chicago coach Scott
Skiles went to all 12 players in the first half. Back with his
starters in the third quarter, the rout grew worse as the Kings
opened the third period with a 13-4 run, building the lead to 64-36
midway through the quarter.

"With the exception of Tyson Chandler, we came out flat,"
Skiles said. "The other four starters weren't at that level so the
Kings really took it to us. We got it close and then they just
turned it on and we didn't have an answer for them."

Ex-King Darius Songaila and Andres Nocioni both had 14 points
for the Bulls, who didn't have a player in double figures until the
fourth quarter. Chandler scored only four points, but had 16
rebounds.

Gordon, who had 30 or more points the last three games, was
2-of-9 in 19 minutes and scored four points.

"(Francisco) Garcia and Kevin Martin really outplayed all of
our guards from beginning to end," Skiles said. "Bibby did his
thing early in the game, but those two guards gave us a lot of
trouble."

Game notes
Artest and Miller played two seasons together with the
Bulls before being traded to Indiana in the 2001-02 season. ...
Chicago has lost seven straight in Sacramento. Its last victory was
Nov. 23, 1997 in Michael Jordan's final season with the Bulls. ...
Sacramento is 9-1 when Martin scores 20 or more points. ... Reserve
forward Michael Sweetney of Chicago played 10 minutes and fouled
out early in the fourth quarter.