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Artest hits for 39 as Kings sink Knicks

Jan 3, 2007 - 7:51 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Ron Artest must like the feel of leather.

Artest scored a career-high 39 points to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 112-100 victory over the New York Knicks.

Having failed to score in his previous game on Saturday night, the Kings were playing for the first time since the NBA switched balls to the old leather one and it obvious agreed with Artest.

He finished 15-of-22 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, to help Sacramento shoot a sizzling 56 percent (45-of-80) for the game.

"I've had some good games with that leather ball," Artest said. "It felt like before, I definitely wasn't thinking about (my) shooting tonight. I've been playing with that ball ever since I've been in the NBA. It felt good that the ball is back."

The Knicks had used an 8-0 spurt to pulled within 81-79 with 10:34 to play, but Artest scored the next seven points, including a shot from the arc, to build the lead to 88-79 and the Kings steadily pulled away.

"Ron was very hot tonight and he was pretty efficient, too," Kings guard Kevin Martin said. "That's the best thing about that, he was efficient. He's better starting the game down in the post so he can get involved in the offense and later on after he makes a couple easy ones down low, see how his outside shot is feeling."

Kings guard Mike Bibby, who sprained his ankle in Saturday's game, returned to score 19 points and register nine assists.

The Knicks might have sense they were in trouble after one quarter when they trailed, 33-26, despite shooting 69 percent (9-of-13).

"Guys are really starting to give good effort right now. We've run into some hot shooting, like tonight," Knicks forward David Lee said. "We just need to go get a win against Portland. We've got a lot of guys who don't like to lose so that's been the most frustrating part. ... We've just got to keep fighting and get these last two on this road trip."

Jamal Crawford scored 28 points to pace the Knicks, which fell to 0-3 on their five-game road swing. Crawford scored 13 consecutive points for the Knicks spanning the second and third quarters.

Knicks center Eddy Curry added 19 points, but he managed just nine shots despite the ejection of Kings center Brad Miller in the third quarter for arguing with an official. Lee added 16 points and 15 rebounds.

"I've got to credit their defense," Curry said. "I thought my team did a good job looking for me but Sacramento definitely made it difficult for me to get good lucks. On a night like tonight, it's just frustrating.

"I wish I could have done more to help my team but I've just got to continue to find a way to be productive out there."

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