for this game

Martin nets 48 but Kings fall to Timberwolves

Mar 8, 2008 - 7:07 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Despite an uncanny performance by Kevin Martin, the Minnesota Timberwolves might wish all their road games could be in Northern California.

Rashad McCants scored 22 points and Al Jefferson powered his way to 21 and 13 rebounds as the Timberwolves overcame a record-setting performance by Martin to down the Sacramento Kings, 111-103, at Arco Arena Friday night.

Martin scored 48 points - the record for a regulation game at Arco - for the Kings, who have lost seven out of their last eight games. But they could not overcome the Timberwolves' offensive attack.

Craig Smith added 18 on 8-of-9 shooting as Minnesota won its third road game of the season.

"We won this game (Thursday) at practice," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "We worked a lot on moving the ball, sharing and making plays for teammates."

Minnesota, the lowest scoring team in the NBA, scored 18 points over its season average and collected 25 assists on 44 field goals.

"It makes the game a whole lot easier," Jefferson said. "Penetrating to the open seam, you draw a defensive guy to you, somebody's open. You've got to step up and hit some shots - that's what we did all night. Only bad thing about it is we're going to start having more practices like that."

If it leads to victories, Jefferson won't mind the extra workout.

The Timberwolves had lost seven straight away from the Target Center and owned the worst road record at 2-26 coming into the contest. Their last road win came just up the freeway in a 109-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors on January 21.

"It felt good," Jefferson said. "We can't be satisfied with this, we've got another game (Saturday). It'd feel real good to get on that plane home (with) two out of three on the road."

Martin notched a career-best performance for the Kings but received little help from his teammates.

"It's definitely one of those nights that I'd trade it in for a team win," said Martin, who also set Arco Arena records for free throws attempted and made by converting 22-of-24. "A lot of young guys played hard tonight, and they deserved a win."

The Kings played without forward Ron Artest, their second-leading scorer, who was a late scratch with a sore right foot for the second straight game.

"We knew Martin was going to take pretty much all the shots, especially with Ron out," Smith said. "So, we tried not to let the rest of their team get in a rhythm."

Sacramento closed within five points on several occasions in the second half, but Minnesota always had an answer.

After the Kings' Francisco Garcia connected from the arc to pull the Kings within six with 4:50 left in the game, Kirk Snyder scored and McCants followed with a 3-pointer to push the advantage to 11.

McCants sealed things with a jumper from the top of the key which made it 109-99 with under 40 seconds remaining.

Sacramento is struggling to avoid the same type of collapse it experienced to close out the 2005-2006 campaign, when the club lost 17 of its final 22 to finish 33-49 - leading to the dismissal of coach Eric Musselman after one season at the helm.

Defense, as usual, has been the biggest culprit in the recent slide.

"It's definitely on their shoulders because I've seen them play defense," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "We've got a couple guys around here that aren't playing hard anymore - it's very disappointing."

Randy Foye buried a 3-pointer and Ryan Gomes followed with a fast-break layup to put the Timberwolves up by 13 with just over a minute to go in the second quarter.

Minnesota had no trouble navigating through the porous Sacramento defense in the first half, hitting 55 percent of its shots to take a 57-44 lead at the break.

"We executed from start to finish and kept the pressure on them all game," Foye said. "Everyone contributed, and it was a great win for us. We need to keep playing like a team and good things will come."

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