for this game

Artest, Miller carry Kings past Hornets

Feb 2, 2008 - 7:14 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- The Sacramento Kings have made a habit of slaying NBA goliaths on their home floor this season. Chalk up another one on Friday night.

Ron Artest scored 24 points and Brad Miller added 22 and 14 rebounds as the Kings put on a clinic on both ends of the floor in a 112-103 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

Kevin Martin celebrated his 25th birthday by scoring 22 points for Sacramento, which used its ball-hawking defense to force 10 first-half turnovers.

"That was a (great) team win," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "Guys came out and set the tone early. They put on an exhibition of how to cut and move without the ball and look for your teammate.

"Every single guy in the game did exactly what we needed to do to to win the basketball game. I thought defensively we were as good as we could be against this team."

The Hornets marched into town with the best record in the Western Conference, only to become the sixth division leader to be toppled by the Kings in the friendly confines of Arco Arena.

"That was a good win," Artest said. "We got them down early and they weren't able to recover. We were just playing, moving the ball, and just hitting our shots. I think guys are looking for each other. If our jumpers are falling, it's going to be really hard to guard us."

"Sacramento did a great job of getting on us early," said Hornets All-Star guard Chris Paul, who had 15 points and 19 assists.

Sacramento was sparked by impressive runs of 9-0 and 11-0 in the first quarter to forge a 34-19 advantage heading into the second.

The Kings' lead was extended to 43-21 when Artest buried a 3-pointer from the left wing with 8 1/2 minutes left in the second. With the Hornets enduring shooting problems, the Kings were able to settle for a commanding 66-44 lead at intermission.

New Orleans tried to chip away at the massive deficit in the second half thanks largely to its success from long range.

Former King Peja Stojakovic hit a pair of 3-pointers and Jannero Pargo converted a tough 20-footer to cap a 19-8 run between the third and fourth to draw within 97-89 with 10:21 left.

Tyson Chandler pulled the Hornets as close as they would get with a three-point play that made it 108-101 with 2:45 remaining.

But Sacramento closed the door, sending New Orleans to consecutive losses for the first time since December 12-14.

Stojakovic collected 25 points and nine boards in his first game back in Sacramento since being traded to Indiana for Artest in 2006.

"They played with a lot more energy and intensity (in the first half)," Stojakovic said. "That was the big key. We turned the ball over a lot and couldn't make shots. They played almost perfect. It was a combination of everything. We tried to make a run but it was too late. We dug ourselves a big hole."

The victory also pulled Sacramento within three games of .500 for the first time since December 19 when it was 11-14.

"We've got a chance to get to .500 on this homestand," said Miller, who collected his 19th double-double of the season. "We have three more home games, we want to get all those and put us at .500 going to Memphis (February 12)."

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