for this game

Martin, Kings send Celtics back to losing ways

Feb 21, 2007 - 7:22 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Kevin Martin made sure the Boston Celtics' success was short-lived.

Handing the Celtics another disappointing loss, Martin scored 22 points and Ron Artest added 16 as the Sacramento Kings staved off Boston's frantic fourth-quarter run en route to a 104-101 victory.

The Celtics snapped a franchise-record 18-game losing streak on Wednesday with a victory over Milwaukee. In ending the longest skid in team history, Boston fell just five games shy of tying the NBA single-season record of 23 straight losses, set by the Vancouver-Memphis franchise and Denver.

"We have to learn how to win," Celtics swingman Paul Pierce said. "Most young teams in the league really don't know how to win at the end. We fall into that pretty much all year. We're still learning how to win. We're taking our lumps. We're like being a little brother right now - we're the little brother team in the NBA. We'll take our lumps until we finally learn from it and hit back."

Martin made sure the Celtics tasted defeat once again. The Kings' most accurate shooter, Martin leads the team in field-goal percentage (49 percent), free-throw percentage (86 percent) and 3-point shooting (42 percent). On Tuesday, he shot an efficient 7-of-10 from the field.

"I tried to get out here after the break and get it going," Martin said. "I didn't touch the ball this year (on the All-Star break). I had to get away from it."

Artest was 4-of-9 from the floor and 7-of-11 from the line for Sacramento, which shot a blistering 55 percent (27-of-49). He even barked back and forth with Pierce, engaging in some friendly banter throughout the game.

"We talk a little trash to each other," Artest said. "Paul has a lot of heart. I enjoy playing against him. That's how he plays. He backed it up tonight. He played (well), hit some big shots."

But the Kings almost blew the lead late in the final period. After rookie Rajon Rondo's jumper capped a 13-3 run and cut Boston's deficit to one point with 1:57 left, Brad Miller added two free throws 20 seconds later to make it 104-101. But Sacramento went cold from the field the rest of the way, letting the game hang in the balance.

"We just had to keep fighting and hang on," Miller said. "We were still ahead so it was just a matter of getting a couple stops. (Boston) only scored 39 points in the second half. We weren't (any) better but definitely picked up the (defense)."

In a wild sequence, Johnny Salmons missed a shot from the arc with 28 seconds left, but Artest grabbed the offensive rebound, allowing the Kings to milk the clock. With the Celtics deciding not to foul, Martin missed a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Boston had one last chance to tie.

Delonte West retrieved Martin's miss with six seconds remaining, dribbled to the arc and misfired on an off-balance attempt as time expired. West scored 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting.

"Del (West) saw an opening," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I yelled timeout, but the referees aren't going to give a coach a timeout. Del made the choice because he did see an opening. He actually got a good look."

West didn't think he was fouled and said the final shot was defended well.

"No, it just came up short," West said. "(Sacramento) defended the ball well. I got a good look. It was straight on, just didn't go in. There's no saying if we call a timeout, we get a better look. I was hitting all night, I got a good look at it, it just didn't fall for us. We've got to put this one behind us and look to (Wednesday)."

Pierce netted 26 points on 8-of-15 for Boston, which shot 50 percent (37-of-74).

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