Moore explodes as Kings stay hot in win over PacersJan 20, 2008 - 5:17 AM By Gary Knight PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Every team deals with injuries and missed games throughout the season, but the Sacramento Kings were hit particularly hard early on. It looks as though things now may be turning their way.
Mikki Moore had 22 points and 11 rebounds and the Kings hit some clutch free throws late en route to their fifth win in seven games, a 110-104 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.
Mike Bibby missed the first 36 games after undergoing thumb surgery in October, Ron Artest missed a combined 16 contests due to an elbow injury and suspension and leading scorer Kevin Martin was sidelined 17 games because of a groin strain.
Since all three played together for the first time this season on Wednesday in the first game of a three-game road trip, the trio has averaged a combined 50.0 points in helping the Kings win two of three contests.
"Two out of three on the road is real solid for us," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "I think my guys are still sort of getting in shape and sort of feeling there way back. I thought our energy level was really down. We did enough to win the basketball game, and that's all that's really important."
Leading by 13 points with under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Sacramento saw its advantage nearly evaporate when the Pacers went on an 11-0 run over a 2:26 stretch.
With Sacramento leading by 13 points, Shawne Williams started the run with a dunk and Danny Granger followed with a 3-pointer from the right wing on the next possession. After a missed shot from Bibby, Jeff Foster put back a miss from Granger.
Jamaal Tinsley followed with a short jumper and Williams converted a layup to close the score to 99-97 with 57 seconds left in the game.
From that point on, Brad Miller and Bibby hit 11-of-12 from the foul line to hold off the Pacers.
"It's just a matter of bringing that effort and energy every night," Pacers guard Mike Dunleavy Jr. said. "If we can do that - as opposed to tonight - where the last five minutes we decided to turn it up, if we could do that consistently, we could win a lot of ballgames."
Indiana was without forward Jermaine O'Neal for the second straight game. It was announced before the opening tip that the team will be without him for an additional two weeks, due to an ailing left knee that is slow to heal.
"It (O'Neal's absence) helped me out a lot tonight," Moore said. "I mean, I had about seven or eight dunks. Their big men played hard, but we just played good team offense, moved the ball around and my teammates found me."
Martin added 20 for Sacramento, which had five players score in double figures including Artest, who finished with 15 points in just his second game against Indiana since he demanded a trade from the team in the middle of the 2005-06 season.
He was booed lustily upon entering the game with 6:29 left in the first, but Artest only pointed to the crowd and blew kisses.
"Every time I come back to Indiana, I'd always envisioned myself being here for my whole entire career," Artest said. "When you come back, it's never as fun as you think it's going to be, but when you step on the court, it's all business."
Granger scored 26 points and Kareem Rush tied a season high with 22 for the Pacers, who fell to 9-10 at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"Coach told us the other day that we have the third-hardest schedule so far," Rush said. "(The) second half (of the season) is a little bit easier on us - we have a lot more home games - so maybe we can get a string of four or five victories together. In the East, if you do that, then you're right back in the mix."
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