Sacramento (19-26) at Utah (22-24)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Salt Lake City, UT
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Fri Feb 3, 2006
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The arrival of Ron Artest and return of Bonzi Wells has sent Kevin Martin back to the bench for the Sacramento Kings.

That might work out well for everyone involved.

Artest, part of a new starting lineup for the Kings, seeks his second consecutive victory with his new team in a matchup with the Utah Jazz.

After Sacramento lost on the road in its first two games after acquiring him, Artest had 19 points and seven rebounds in his home debut and the Kings beat the Denver Nuggets 98-91 on Tuesday.

“I’m blessed to be playing with a team like this,” Artest said. “We played horrible tonight, and we still won. It’s just talent. … We could have played much better, and we still won. We’re trying, given the circumstances we’re under.”

The infamous troublemaker is averaging 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds with the Kings after being inactive for 24 games as his days in Indiana wound down. He had 24 points Sunday in Sacramento’s 124-123 overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors.

With Wells back after missing the previous 19 games due to a torn groin muscle, Martin came off the bench Tuesday for the first time since mid-December and matched a career high with 25 points.

“(Martin) came in, he was aggressive, and he made shots,” Kings coach Rick Adelman said. “If we’re going to be successful, we’re going to need those guys to step up off the bench and I think he really gave us a lift in the second quarter.”

Wells grabbed 14 rebounds in his return but was rusty with his shooting, making 3-of-16 from the field for seven points.

Kenny Thomas recorded his fourth straight double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for Sacramento, which returned home after a 1-5 East Coast road trip.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim added 10 points starting at center in place of Brad Miller, who sat out for the first time this season due to a broken right thumb. Miller is expected to miss at least two more games.

Sacramento had won nine straight at Salt Lake City before losing 92-82 in Utah last season. The Kings have won 15 of the last 18 meetings overall, including a 119-83 victory in Sacramento on Nov. 15.

Utah now has the chance to avenge embarrassing losses in back-to-back games.

The Jazz snapped a three-game losing streak with a 103-90 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. The Jazz suffered a 30-point loss to Denver on Jan. 20.

“Coach said it best earlier at the shootaround today,” said Milt Palacio, who had 12 points and seven assists for the Jazz. “It’s like a little kid getting bullied every day and one day you’re going to have to stand up and fight.”

The Jazz have still lost seven of 10, but all three wins in that span came at the Delta Center.

Mehmet Okur had 28 points and 11 rebounds on Wednesday for Utah, which finished with a 40-23 rebounding advantage and shot 55 percent. Andrei Kirilenko added 21 points, five blocks and five assists.

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