for this game

Artest, Bibby set pace as Kings dominate Nets

Jan 23, 2008 - 6:56 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- It took 40 games for the Sacramento Kings to see the starting lineup they envisioned all along take the court. The Arco Arena crowd loved what it saw.

Sacramento raced out to an early lead and never looked back, handing the New Jersey Nets their sixth straight loss with a 128-94 thrashing on Tuesday night.

Ron Artest scored 27 points, leading seven players in double figures, and grabbed five steals for Sacramento, which secured its first three-game winning streak since March with its highest scoring output of the season.

"I thought it was a great win for us, just a great way for us to play," Sacramento coach Reggie Theus said. "(Getting) 30 assists, 13 turnovers, and 41 rebounds (are) big numbers for us. I was most impressed with our willingness to pass the basketball."

That unselfish play led to a season-high assist total for the Kings as well as center Brad Miller, who finished with eight to lead the way.

Mike Bibby scored 15 points and added seven assists in his home debut after missing 37 games with a thumb injury.

"We played (well) all the way around, defensively and offensively, Bibby said. "Once we had them down, we kept them down. Good teams do that. I think we'll be all right. If we play like we did tonight, play hard on both ends, things will take care of themselves."

"Mike's been watching, same thing with Kevin (Martin), same with myself," said Artest, who finished 9-of-14 from the field. "Once we came back, all we had to do is get in shape. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves. With Mike back, it boosts everybody's confidence out there."

Beno Udrih and Francisco Garcia, two players who started during the Kings' injury-riddled first half of the campaign, combined to score 27 points off the bench on 10-of-12 shooting.

"The injuries were probably a good thing that happened to us," Artest said. "(Now) we've got to make sure we keep (our bench) in a rhythm, give them the ball when they're open and let them continue to carry us and we continue to carry each other."

The Kings used a 19-7 run midway through the second quarter to take control of the game, grabbing a 55-39 lead with just under five minutes in the half. But they weren't through yet. Bibby nailed a 3-pointer to close out the scoring, putting Sacramento on top, 64-47, at the break.

"We did not take care of the ball in the first quarter," said Nets guard Jason Kidd, who finished with 13 points and five assists. "We were able to cut it to six, but they kept scoring and that was pretty much the ball game."

The Nets' energy showed no improvement in the third as the Kings continued to pour it on. Udrih's 3-pointer from the corner sent Sacramento into the fourth quarter with an insurmountable 97-73 advantage.

Sacramento led by as many as 36 points in the fourth, allowing ample opportunity to rest its starters in preparation for a game Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

Vince Carter scored 21 and collected eight assists for the struggling Nets, who fell to 0-3 on their current six-game road trip. New Jersey plays the Warriors in Oakland on Thursday.

"Pathetic performance," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We gave up a season-high in points. They shoot high 50s from the field and in the 60s from 3. Just a dismal performance."

Only a 106-69 loss against Toronto on November 2 kept this from being the Nets' worst loss of the season.

Sacramento hit season-highs with 15-of-24 from the arc and 58 shooting (46-of-80), in easily its best performance of the season.

"I wasn't surprised because I know we're capable," Theus said. "We've got eight guys (who) can shoot the basketball."

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