And Kevin Martin? The kid keeps putting up big numbers.
Martin had 26 points, six rebounds and made all eight of his
free throws, and Sacramento extended its home winning streak
against Toronto to nine games with a 107-92 victory Sunday night.
Artest scored 15 of his 23 points in the first period to get
things going as the Kings produced another impressive game on both
ends of the floor for their third straight win, running right along
with up-tempo Toronto. Sacramento might be making an early
statement that it will be a force in the Pacific Division.
"We felt like the team that had the most energy," Martin said.
"You're not going to slow those guys down. They're one of the
fastest pushing teams."
Bibby, still wearing a protective splint on his tender right
wrist, added 21 points, five rebounds and four assists to help the
Kings stay unbeaten at home this season. They haven't lost to the
Raptors on their own floor since Toronto's lone win at Arco Arena
on March 13, 1997.
First-year coach Eric Musselman likes looking at the stat sheet
and seeing that his guards are contributing on the boards.
Musselman's philosophy is that extra work on the glass only leads
to better chances on offense.
Bibby shot 8-for-16 and Artest 9-of-17.
"It's still there a little bit, but they're going in," Bibby
said of the wrist affecting his shot. "They've got to go in
Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 18 points and seven rebounds for
Sacramento, which shot 49 percent and outrebounded the Raptors
Chris Bosh scored 19 points and Morris Peterson 18 for the
Raptors, who opened a tough five-game, 11-day road trip that also
goes through Golden State, Los Angeles to play the Lakers, Denver
T.J. Ford added 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds but
committed eight of the Raptors' season-high 19 turnovers.
Toronto coach Sam Mitchell knows this could be a long stretch if
the Raptors don't start playing better.
"Where is our confidence? Where is our swagger?" Mitchell
said. "You've just got to have confidence when you step out on the
court. We need to find it."
Artest made his first six field goals and showed again that his
work to improve on rebounding is paying off -- which has been a key
for the Kings with center Brad Miller sidelined with a foot injury.
Artest finished with four assists and 10 boards, pulling down eight
or more rebounds in five of the first six games.
The Kings call it "cleaning up" on the boards -- and everyone
must do their part.
"That's something Coach came in and tried to drive home,"
Musselman stressed transition defense against the speedy
Raptors, who effectively pushed the ball early but couldn't
maintain that pace. Sacramento's defense has been among the best in
the league and was top-rated for fewest points allowed heading into
"They've taken great pride in getting defensive stops,"
The sloppy Raptors, who also fell behind early in a 111-102 loss
at home to Atlanta on Friday night, missed easy shots and didn't
take care of the ball when the game still was within reach.
Martin, a third-year pro, made a layup at early in the third
period that gave him 132 points less than six games into the
season, surpassing his rookie scoring total of 131 points
accomplished in 45 games.
"They had too many open looks," Bosh said. "They have a lot
of guys who can shoot."
The Kings took the ball hard to the basket early to draw fouls,
and have shot at least 10 free throws in the first quarter in their
past three games after getting to the line a total of 10 times
combined in the initial period of their first three contests.
They took advantage of six Toronto turnovers in the opening 5½
minutes and used an 11-3 spurt to start the second quarter on the
way to a 59-44 halftime lead. Toronto missed seven of its first
eight shots in the second.
The Kings had 12 steals, including three by Kenny Thomas.
"All the starters did a good job running the floor in the first
quarter," Musselman said. "We did a good job deflecting balls and
^Notes:@ Martin has made 36 straight free throws. ... Artest's 15
points in the first quarter were the most by a Kings player in a
quarter so far this season. ... The Kings are 10-1 all-time against
the Raptors at home. ... Toronto shot 2-for-10 on 3-pointers in the
first half, missing its first five attempts, and 6-for-24 overall --
only slightly worse than Sacramento's 6-of-22. ... Both teams had
10 offensive boards.