for this game

Martin, Kings end road woes in Memphis

Feb 21, 2009 - 5:21 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- It's finally over for the Sacramento Kings. After 37 days, nine losses, four trades and one long weekend in the middle of it all, the Kings have finally come out on top in enemy territory.

Kevin Martin scored 33 points and knocked down four free throws in the final 30 seconds Friday to secure a 115-106 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Kings pulled it off despite a shorthanded roster following the flurry of deadline trades they made this week.

"Even though we short in numbers, guys came in and gave us great energy," interim coach Kenny Natt said. "It was wonderful as a coach to see the guys play as hard as they did."

The victory snaps a nine-game road losing streak for the Kings - and a six-game skid overall.

"We've been coming on a little after losing six straight, so it feels good to get a win," Martin said. "We just have to keep working at it. There's a lot of games left to get better."

The team's last road victory came on January 14 - and that one was hard enough to come by, as the Kings needed three overtimes and a slew of heroics to edge the Golden State Warriors, 135-133. While nothing has come easy for Sacramento this season, this one was at least easier.

The Kings led for most of the night, falling behind late in the third quarter but immediately taking the lead back - this time for good. After Mike Conley drained a pair of foul shots to give Memphis a 72-71 edge, Donte Greene answered on the other end with a deep 3-pointer to put Sacramento back on top.

"We made some mistakes but we overcame it by digging in defensively and getting stops, and then on the offensive end getting what we wanted," Natt said.

Martin extended the lead to three with a driving layup and Greene capped the quarter with a dunk, giving the Kings all the emotion and momentum they needed heading into the final session

"We were able to hit shots when we needed them and hit our free throws and we tried to be as active as we can on defense," Martin said.

The Grizzlies managed to hang around within a few points in the fourth quarter, but couldn't get over the hump. O.J. Mayo hit two free throws to cut the deficit to 87-85, but Beno Udrih answered with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to five with 8:29 remaining.

"The best offense at the end of the game is the 3-pointer in the middle," Udrih said. "It calmed the defense down, and it was a good thing."

The Kings hung on from there.

Of course, the team's recent inability to win away from home hasn't necessarily been the biggest news - after all, it's had enough trouble winning at ARCO Arena.

"It's good to see that the chemistry is getting worked out, and we're having fun doing it," Kings center Spencer Hawes said. "That's the thing that gets lost usually when you're struggling is you stop having fun. ... Now we're playing well, we're playing together and we're having fun out there."

But more focus has recently been spent on a mini-makeover they have undergone over the last week - not to mention an ongoing struggle to keep the team in Sacramento, an issue which may come to a head next week when the team will present a new development plan for a new arena to the Cal Expo Board.

The Kings pulled off four deals prior to the All-Star break and were involved in talks all over the place - reportedly coming close to acquiring Knicks guard Nate Robinson before New York ultimately pulled out. There were also talks that the club would unload Martin, its leading scorer.

"We know we still have a lot of games to play," Martin said. "Hopefully a win like tonight shows the guys (coming in from trades) that we're not giving in and we're ready to play."

The Kings wound up trading two of its other top players, center Brad Miller and swingman John Salmons, in a three-team deal with the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers, bringing in Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni, Cedric Simmons and Ike Diogu. They also picked up Rashad McCants and Calvin Booth in a deal with Minnesota and reserve point guard Will Solomon in a three-way deal.

None of the team's seven new faces suited up in this one - and yet Sacramento managed to survive anyway. Less, in this case, was more.

"I thought (Memphis) would come out and really try to take advantage of us with short numbers and push the basketball down the court on us and really tire us out," Natt said. "I was worried about that and foul trouble. But I'm just ecstatic at how the guys played together tonight."

Mayo led the Grizzlies with 24 points and Rudy Gay added 23 and 10 boards, overcoming an ugly start in which he missed 12 of his first 14 shot attempts.

"We see Sacramento Kings, 11-44, but we can never disrespect anybody, not in our position," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "You have to give Sacramento credit. They had those eight guys who played well and scored."