When it came time to talk about Martin's play, his Sacramento
teammates had nothing but praise.
Knocking down long, open jumpers and scoring on difficult
drives, Martin scored a career-high 35 points in the Kings' 109-100
victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday night.
With Ron Artest back in Sacramento resting his aching lower
back, Martin took on an even larger chunk of the Kings' scoring.
"I never go into a game feeling like I need to score big,"
Martin said. "I know I have a lot of veterans that can put the
ball in the hole just like me."
True, Martin got plenty of help, as six Kings scored in double
figures. But no one could slow the Kings' leading scorer, who was
nearly flawless in the second half.
Martin made all five of his shots in the third quarter and seven
straight at one point in the second half, including three
3-pointers. Martin scored 24 after halftime as the Kings (6-5)
snapped a three-game losing streak.
"He's taken a pretty big step," Sacramento coach Eric
Musselman said. "He's going to keep getting better."
Want proof? In Sacramento's loss to Utah on Wednesday, Martin
disappeared in the fourth quarter, going scoreless with guard Mike
Bibby out with a thigh injury and Artest ailing.
On Friday, Martin scored seven of the first nine Sacramento
points to start the fourth, extending a seven-point lead to 14.
Martin was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and made each free throw,
banked in a running one-handed hook from just outside the low block
and then scored over Mickael Gelabale for a 91-77 Sacramento lead.
"I had that in the back of my mind," Martin said of
Wednesday's performance. "I didn't want to have another night
where I didn't score in the fourth again."
Rashard Lewis led Seattle with 26 points, scoring 19 in the
first half as Artest's replacement, John Salmons, couldn't match
up. Lewis made eight of 11 shots in the first half, but scored just
two points in the third quarter as the Kings took control.
Luke Ridnour added 20 and Chris Wilcox scored 15 for Seattle
(6-8), which fell to 2-4 at home. Ray Allen scored 18 points -- five
in the final two minutes -- but missed 16 shots.
Seattle trailed by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter and only
got within single digits when Earl Watson hit a meaningless
3-pointer at the buzzer.
"Our defense was like a sieve tonight. We couldn't keep anybody
in front of us," Seattle coach Bob Hill said. "We were a step
behind them all night. It was a bad performance."
Bibby shook off his sore right thigh that knocked him out of
Wednesday's loss to Utah, and scored 19 points. Williamson added 13
and Kenny Thomas had 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Salmons provided help offensively, scoring 10 of his 12 points
in the first half. Abdur-Rahim also scored 14 with eight rebounds
for Sacramento. But the story was Martin, who didn't miss in the
second half until he bypassed an open 3-pointer, took one dribble
and came up short on a 20-footer with 4:52 left.
"I think he's just scratching the surface," Abdur-Rahim said.
"I don't think he's close to where he can be."
Meanwhile, Allen struggled, going just 6-of-22 and missing six
3-point attempts. Allen went 15:13 of the second half between field
goals, finally breaking his scoreless string with a difficult
reverse layup with 6:03 left. Seattle trailed 97-81 at that point.
Sacramento rotated Martin, Salmons and Francisco Garcia on Allen
and flustered the All-Star into his worst shooting performance of
"I thought we did an OK job in the first half, but going from
the third to the fourth quarter, it just fell apart," Allen said.
Artest's status for Saturday's home game against Portland
was unknown. ... Seattle had 11 assists in the first quarter and
just eight the rest of the game. ... Martin's previous career high
was 30, accomplished twice this season.