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Artest scores 36 points as Kings lead wire-to-wire

Jan 25, 2007 - 7:56 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Ron Artest got the Sacramento Kings going in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, he sent the Milwaukee Bucks home with an empty feeling.

Artest scored 28 of his season-high 36 points in the first and fourth quarters as the Kings posted their third win in four games, 114-106, over the stumbling Milwaukee Bucks.

Brad Miller had 14 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Sacramento, which had lost seven straight just prior to its recent streak.

"We'll take it. We're still not playing the type of ball we're supposed to be playing," Artest said. "We realize that, but the last 12 games we got better. It's just a matter of sustaining it, continuing to get better and getting a little bit more effort."

Artest scored 10 points and Kevin Martin added nine of his 18 in the first quarter, as Sacramento shot 15-of-22 and scored 37 points - their second-biggest first-quarter output this season.

"We were happy with how we started, but Milwaukee is not (among) the best teams in the league," Artest said. "With the goals that we're trying to reach, we're supposed to win games like this. We can't really make a big deal out of this game. It really doesn't show what type of team we are yet."

The Kings led by 10 after the first quarter and staved off runs by the Bucks in the second and third quarters. Artest heated up again in the final period, scoring 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting despite playing through a sprained ankle. His 3-point dagger with 1:37 left pushed the lead to 109-97.

"He made big plays down the stretch," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. "He's a tough-minded player and he likes the ball in his hands at the end of the game."

Playing without injured starters Michael Redd, Mo Williams and Charlie Villanueva, Earl Boykins fired in a career-high 36 points for Milwaukee, which ended an 0-4 road trip and has lost 10 of 11 overall.

"The ultimate goal is to win the basketball game and whenever you play well, it's a very empty feeling," Boykins said. "Tonight we just didn't start the game in the right frame of mind."

"We put in a good effort, just came (up) short again," Milwaukee forward Ruben Patterson said. "Another disappointing loss on the four on this road trip. We've got a tough team in Phoenix coming out at home Friday. We've just got to keep digging it out until we get this monkey off our back."

The Bucks' injured trio combined for 66 points in Milwaukee's 104-91 home victory over Sacramento on November 11.

Thomas finished with 14 points and nine rebounds and Bibby added 11 and eight assists for the Kings, who shot 53 (42-of-79) percent.

Patterson had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks, who shot 47 (37-of-78) percent. Milwaukee pulled within 46-45 with 3:25 left in the first half before Mike Bibby hit a jumper, Kenny Thomas and Artest scored on layups and Miller drained a 3-pointer for a 58-45 lead with 44 seconds left in the half.

"Tonight I thought our starters did an excellent job out of the gate," sacramento coach Eric Musselman said. "(We) scored 37 in the first quarter and then in the second Milwaukee made a run at us. Then we finished the half on a 10-2 run when we went back with our starters. So I thought they did a great job of starting the game and then finishing the half."

The Bucks rallied again, pulling within 72-69 with 2:49 left in the third on a shot from the arc by Boykins, but Francisco Garcia sparked a 7-1 run with a jumper and a 3-pointer to rebuild a 79-70 edge with 1:21 to play in the third.

"I'm just trying to go in there and bring a little energy, and when I've got an open shot, take it," Garcia said. "We're playing pretty good right now."

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