for this game

Artest helps Kings hold off Bulls

Feb 3, 2008 - 7:12 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- As the frustration continues to mount for the Chicago Bulls, the Sacramento Kings made it worse in a hard-fought battle on Saturday night.

Ron Artest scored 28 points and Kevin Martin added 26 as the Kings dealt the Chicago Bulls their fourth loss in five games, 105-101, at Arco Arena.

Brad Miller added his second 20-point, 20-rebound performance in three games with 22 and 20 as the Kings secured their first four-game winning streak of the season.

"We're trying to get (to the playoffs)," Martin said. "We're enjoying playing together and we've just got to keep on doing it. We clamped down on defense, especially late in the fourth, and made buckets down the stetch."

Sacramento struggled all night from the field, but made up for the poor shooting by converting 35-of-40 free throws and winning the battle on the boards, 42-40.

"We're coming up on 11 games together as a total unit, and it seems like we're finding a more cohesive way to play," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "Even when we shoot 38 percent for the game and win, that's hard to do. Normally, we wouldn't do that. That's a tribute to the way the guys are playing."

Artest blew by rookie Joakim Noah for a baseline reverse dunk to give the Kings a 103-99 lead with 37 seconds left and the Kings held on.

"I was just trying to get to the hole, trying to do anything to win and kind of finish (the game) off," Artest said. "(Noah's) a little taller than me, so I tried to drive to the basket and the basket just got open."

Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich both missed shots on the Bulls' next possession, but Miller then missed two free throws to keep Chicago alive with 14 seconds remaining.

But Andres Nocioni missed a long jumper for Chicago, and Sacramento's Mike Bibby hit two free throws that put the game out of reach.

The Bulls went without a field goal in the final 4:58 before Hinrich scored a meaningless layup at the buzzer.

"You get to that point in the game, we've got to be able to step up and make plays," said Hinrich, who scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. "We just didn't do a very good job of it tonight. Those last few minutes we struggled to find baskets."

Gordon kept the Bulls within striking range all night, then put Chicago on top with five consecutive points that made it 92-89 at the midway point of the fourth quarter.

After Artest hit a 3-pointer for Sacramento to tie it, Gordon again answered from long range to put the Bulls up 95-92. But it was the last field goal by Chicago until the final horn.

Gordon, who missed the last five games with a sprained wrist, poured in 33 points to lead the Bulls, who shot 60 percent in the first half and held a seven-point lead with just over five minutes left.

But the Kings started to heat up, using an 11-0 run to push out to a 61-54 lead before settling for a 63-60 advantage at the break.

"I felt OK," Gordon said. "I was excited to get back out there with my team competing. We had a chance to win but we just didn't make enough plays down the stretch. We played well for the most part. That was pretty much our demise for tonight."

Miller has been on a rebounding tear for Sacramento in its current homestand, pulling down 55 rebounds over three games.

"It feels good to win, that's all I care about," said Miller, who is playing his best basketball in years recently. "Play well and win. Life's good for me right now. Team confidence is good, and I'm just enjoying it."

"If Brad doesn't get Player of the Week come Monday morning, I don't know what to say," Martin said.

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