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Martin explodes, Salmons' game-winner sends Kings to win

Jan 15, 2008 - 7:40 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Kevin Martin returned from a long absence on Saturday and turned in a fine performance. What he did for an encore wasn't too shabby, either.

Martin scored 39 points in his second game back from injury and John Salmons hit the game-winning shot with two seconds left for the Sacramento Kings en route to a 122-120 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

After getting injured in a December 4 win against Utah, the fourth-year pro from Western Carolina missed 17 games while recovering from a groin injury. In his return on Saturday, Martin scored 25 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

"For me, it's just basketball," Martin said. "I always felt like I could come back and play. It was just a matter of where my wind (stamina) was. I told coach (Reggie Theus) I can give him only 28 minutes a night right now. He said, 'As long as it's good.' That's what I'm trying to do."

Suffice to say, Martin has delivered what the coach asked for and then some.

"He's playing like a gazelle right now," Theus said. "The thing I like about what Kevin's doing for us right now is he's laying it all out (there for us). Then, when he gets tired he looks over, and we get him out of the game. He's not worried about his minutes, he's worried about his wind."

"You don't see too many people missing that much time (and) come off the bench and score 39 points," Salmons said. "He's a great player. We're glad to have him back. If he wasn't playing today, we definitely wouldn't have won this game."

On Monday, Martin and Salmons combined to score 26 of the Kings' 36 points in the fourth quarter, including the final 10 of the game. Salmons scored 14 of his 22 points in the final period.

Mavericks guard Jason Terry, who finished with 25 points, had given Dallas the lead after converting a three-point play with 22 seconds left.

"I think we were having fun tonight," said Martin, who made 14-of-16 shots and 9-of-11 free throws. "We weren't worrying about the play before. They've got a couple players that make tough shots like that, and we've got a couple players that make tough shots. We gave the fans their money's worth tonight."

But Martin did the same on the other end to put Sacramento up 120-118 with 11 seconds remaining.

Again, Terry answered with another six-foot jumper to knot the game at 120-120 with seven seconds to go, but it went for naught as Salmons drove the length of the court through three Dallas defenders and put up a running nine-foot jumper off the glass with two seconds left to push Sacramento back in front, 122-120.

"I wasn't quite sure if we had a timeout or not, but (Brad Miller and I) had eye contact and he gave it to me," Salmons said of the game-winner. "I had a straight run and some momentum on my way to the basket and I just shot it up there."

Terry's desperation heave at the buzzer sailed wide, and the Kings celebrated on the court after winning for the third time in four games.

"We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end but, defensively, we just had a poor performance," said Terry, who hit 10-of-16 shots, including 3-of-4 from the arc. "Give (Sacramento) a lot of credit, but we still have a long way to go to get to where we want as a team.

"Momentum swung once we started to turn the ball over. I know myself, particularly, I had three. Very uncharacteristic of us, but we still had a chance to win."

Francisco Garcia scored 11 of his 22 points in the third period as Sacramento erased a two-point halftime deficit by outscoring Dallas, 31-23, in the quarter. That ended a streak of 20 consecutive quarters that the Mavericks had not allowed 30 points and gave the Kings an 86-80 lead going to the fourth.

Devin Harris scored 25 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 21 for the Mavericks.

"If you score 120 on the road, that should be enough to win," Nowitzki said. "Obviously, we've got to look at some stuff; it's going to be a tough one to sit on for four days. But we've got some stuff to work out; we knew that all along. We've just got to get better."

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