for this game

Kings end seven-game skid against hapless Celtics

Jan 20, 2007 - 5:37 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Somebody had to win. Kevin Martin and Ron Artest decided it might as well be the Sacramento Kings.

Martin scored 22 points and Artest collected 19 and 11 rebounds as the Kings posted a 96-91 victory over the Boston Celtics in a game involving struggling teams.

Brad Miller scored 18 points - including four in the final two minutes - for Sacramento, which avoided its first eight-game losing streak since March 9-April 3, 1998.

"We felt like we got a big gorilla off of our back," Martin said. "We'll take any win at this point."

Martin shot 10-of-17 from the floor for Sacramento, which connected on 49 percent (38-of-77) and committed just eight turnovers.

"I was just moving without the ball and guys were finding me," Martin said. "We feel that's a big strength of ours."

Artest split 12 shots from the field, hit 7-of-8 from the line and added three assists and a pair of steals.

"We needed Ron to rebound the ball, and he certainly was phenomenal," Sacramento coach Eric Musselman said. "Plus, we needed guys to make shots, and they did. Brad knocked down some big shots in the crunch when we needed it."

Miller hit a jumper with 3:56 left that gave the Kings an 81-80 lead, an advantage they never relinquished. Miller fed Martin on a nice backdoor play that provided an 87-84 edge with 2:15 to go.

"I just know that (the defender) was going to crowd me because he thought I was going to come up to the baseline and get the ball and get a foul and see if I could hit a couple of free throws," Martin said. "Me and Brad got together and did our little thing; I faked up and went back, and he bit for it."

After a jumper by Boston's Ryan Gomes, Miller hit a clutch jumper from the right wing to provide an 89-86 lead with 1:59 left. He added two free throws with 47 seconds remaining to increase the lead to five.

Miller finished 7-of-12 from the field with seven assists and six rebounds.

Delonte West returned from a back injury and scored 25 points for Boston, which has dropped six straight and 13 of 15. The lefthander shot 10-of-16 from the floor, including all three from the arc, and added six assists in his first appearance in five games.

"Individually, I gave a good effort out there, but I'm the type of guy that doesn't look in the scoring column," West said. "We're struggling to get a win. We gave this one to them. We had them on their heels the whole game and it came down to the stretch, and we pulled up and got non-aggressive. They stole one from us."

Al Jefferson added 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics, who outrebounded the Kings, 41-35, but still dropped to 4-14 at home.

"We're improving every game," Jefferson said. "I know it sounds crazy because we've lost a lot of games, but we're still improving. We know how to do it, but it's going out there and doing it."