Since acquiring the controversial Artest for Peja Stojakovic in
a Jan. 25th trade, the Kings are unbeaten in five home games and
have won eight straight overall at Arco, where they were struggling
for the first time in years.
"(Artest) definitely makes them a better team because they feed
off his energy," said Hawks guard Joe Johnson, who had 13 points,
but none after halftime when he was primarily guarded by Artest.
"He's just coming out and making plays. He's not doing anything
out of character. He's a good player."
Kevin Martin also scored 20 points for the Kings, who won for
the fourth time in five games. Sacramento shot 52 percent, had 27
assists and played solid defense.
"We definitely gave 100 percent on defense," Artest said.
"Atlanta is not the best team in the NBA, but we played well
against them and got a convincing win."
Sharing the ball and continually making the extra pass, the
Kings pulled away from the youthful Hawks in the third quarter,
building a 79-51 lead. Martin scored 11 in the third and Brad
Miller added nine points in the period for Sacramento, which made
"They had a lot of energy coming in the second half and we
didn't do anything to counter that," Atlanta's Josh Childress
said. "We let them be the aggressor and that's why they came out
on top. We played like we were in quicksand tonight."
Miller finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and Kenny
Thomas had 17 points and 10 boards for the Kings, who placed seven
players in double figures. Mike Bibby scored 13 and Francisco
Garcia and Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 10 points apiece.
Artest had a strong second quarter to help Sacramento take a
48-40 lead at halftime. He made two 3-pointers and scored all 14 of
his first-half points in the period.
"It has been a little problem," Artest said of his outside
shooting. "I'm taking them when they are there. I'm getting
readjusted to everything on the court. It will come along."
The Hawks, who have the youngest team in the NBA, continue to
struggle on the road, where they are 4-20 this season, including
0-12 against Western Conference teams.
Atlanta has two games remaining on a four-game trip, which
concludes after the All-Star break.
"We've got to go back to the drawing board because I'm not
pleased at all about the way we played and with our effort in the
second half," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We were lucky to be
down eight at the half and it wasn't even close in the second
Al Harrington, Atlanta's leading scorer, was never a factor,
finishing 3-of-11 from the field and scoring nine points.
Atlanta has lost five straight and nine of 10 against
Sacramento. ... The Kings outrebounded the Hawks 53-41. ... Woodson
played on the first Sacramento team in the 1985-86 season. ... The
Kings face Chicago and Memphis on the road prior to the All-Star
break. They beat both teams last week at home.