Kings hold off Jazz in crunch timeDec 5, 2007 - 7:45 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- The Sacramento Kings are learning how to close out tight games at home and showing the NBA's elite that Arco Arena is a tough place to play once again.
Kevin Martin scored 25 points before leaving with an injury as the Kings pulled away from the Utah Jazz, 117-107, on Tuesday night.
Martin left the game after the third with a right groin injury, leaving the scoring load on the shoulders of John Salmons and Ron Artest.
"We scored 43 points in the fourth quarter, which is really great in the eyes of losing Kevin," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "I thought we finished the game strong. That was really big. We beat a good basketball team tonight."
The news on Martin's injury was not good. Sacramento's leading scorer is expected to miss four to six weeks, joining his backcourt mate Mike Bibby on the sidelines until at least January.
"Without Kevin, we definitely won't be as good," Artest said. "But we have to hang in there and play every possession like it's our last possession, play hard and stay confident."
Salmons scored 15 of his 21 points in the fourth, and Artest eight of his 23 to push the Kings to 7-3 at Arco Arena.
Salmons started the fourth by promptly scoring the Kings first 11 points to put them back in front, 85-84, with nine minutes left.
"He got us into a nice run, just got us going," Kings swingman Francisco Garcia said of Salmons' effort. "We need that from him sometimes."
"John played huge," Theus said. "It was five or six times in a row I went right to him and he made something happen. You put him in the spots where he can play and he can usually make it happen."
After two free throws by Salmons gave Sacramento a three-point lead midway through the quarter, Mehmet Okur nailed a 20-footer and Deron Williams followed with a breakaway layup off a steal to put Utah back on top, 92-91.
Artest scored on two driving layups that ignited an 8-2 Kings run to give Sacramento 102-98 lead. But Carlos Boozer answered with a three-point play to make it a one-point game at 102-101 with 2:50 left.
"Ron and Salmons were going to the hole at will, getting a lot of and-ones, they did a great job," Williams said. "(Defense) is something we've got to get better at if we want to be a championship team. We have to find a way to get stops, especially late in the ballgame."
Garcia nailed two long 3-pointers in the final two minutes, the last giving Sacramento a 113-105 advantage with 19 seconds remaining.
"I was open and they found me," Garcia said. "It felt good as soon as I let it go."
After Williams hit two free throws to make it 113-107, Utah was forced to foul, and the Kings closed out the game from the free-throw line.
"They had a tremendous fourth quarter," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We tried to zone them and couldn't keep them in front of us. Garcia's 3-point shot late did us in."
Garcia had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 from the arc for the Kings.
The Jazz came out firing on all cylinders, hitting 64 percent of their shots in the first quarter to grab a 35-27 lead.
Sacramento chipped away at the lead in the second as Martin completed a three-point play, and Brad Miller followed with a shot from the arc to pull the Kings within two at 45-43.
But Boozer scored seven points in the final 4:07 to help the Jazz secure a 56-53 advantage at the half.
The lead changed hands three times in the opening minutes of the third before Sacramento's offense became stagnant, and Utah looked to be back in control with eight unanswered points to lead, 68-61.
The Kings re-grouped and closed to within one before Ronnie Brewer hit a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer to put the Jazz up by three points heading to the fourth.
Williams scored 30 points and Carlos Boozer added 19 and 11 rebounds for Utah.
SACRAMENTO 117 FINAL
Dec 5 12:36 AM
SACRAMENTO 74 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 4 11:52 PM
SACRAMENTO 53 HALFTIME
Dec 4 11:10 PM
SACRAMENTO 27 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 4 10:35 PM
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