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Artest, Martin help Kings spoil Bibby's return to Arco

Feb 21, 2008 - 7:11 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Four days after the trade that sent him to the Atlanta Hawks, Mike Bibby was back on the hardwood at Arco Arena.

Ron Artest scored 29 points and Kevin Martin chipped in 26 as the Sacramento Kings held off a strong effort by Bibby in a 119-107 victory over the slumping Hawks on Wednesday night.

Bibby finished with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting in his second game with Atlanta but couldn't prevent the Hawks from dropping their sixth straight outing.

"It's going to take a little bit of time," Bibby said. "This was only the second time I've really played with them. The first practice I had was probably about five minutes and then we played the Lakers (Tuesday) and then (Sacramento)."

"Obviously, offense carries you a long way, but when it's all said and done, we held them to 17 points in the fourth and that is what won the game for us," Kings coach Reggie Theus said.

Artest, as usual, played a key role in the defensive effort with three steals and a blocked shot while holding Hawks leading-scorer Joe Johnson to 16 points.

"It has a lot to do with team defense," Artest said. "Definitely without help on screen-and-rolls, you can't really stop anyone one-on-one. It has a lot to do with team defense and guys having my back. Lately guys have been picking it up. We want to make the playoffs, so that's important."

Francisco Garcia hit three 3-pointers in just over three minutes between the third and fourth quarters to put Sacramento on top by six with nine minutes remaining.

Artest followed with a driving baseline dunk and added a layup with 6:33 left to cap an impressive 13-2 stretch that put the Kings in control at 108-96.

Artest hit 9-of-12 shots in his third straight stellar performance. He is averaging 28.0 points despite the trade rumors that have been swirling for weeks.

"I don't know anything about a trade deadline," Artest quipped. "I'm going to go get some sushi. I have no comment."

"Nothing's going to happen," Garcia said. "We're good. We're going to be OK."

Bibby, the last connection to the Kings' team that fell to the Lakers in an epic seven-game Western Conference finals in 2002, was greeted with a standing ovation by the Arco crowd following a pregame video highlighting his memorable moments.

"It made me smile," Bibby said. "A lot of good things happened while I was here and the fans were a big part of that and I appreciate that. I woke up early and I couldn't go back to sleep. You could say I was anxious."

"He deserves it," Artest added. "I hope when he comes next year it'll be a little louder, a little longer. He's a big part of history in Sacramento. He was a major contributor to that team. It was well deserved."

After missing all four of his 3-point attempts in a blowout loss to the Lakers on Tuesday, Bibby was back on target, converting 4-of-5 from the arc against his former club.

"It was different," Martin said. "It was my first game playing without him. We were out there joking. Life goes on, I guess."

Josh Childress came off the bench to score 18 points to lead the Hawks.

Artest and Martin combined to pour in 38 points on 11-of-13 shooting to lift the Kings to a 62-60 advantage at the break, which featured 15 ties and nine lead changes.

"The last two outings we've given up 122 against the Lakers and 119 against the Kings," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We're not going to win that way. We scored enough points but somewhere along the line we've got to start defending and rebounding the ball."

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