Mike Bibby established himself as a go-to guy late in games with Sacramento. The Kings have proven they can end a slump without the veteran point guard, but the Atlanta Hawks could certainly use one of his clutch performances.
After struggling in his Hawks debut, Bibby will face the Kings for the first time since being traded this past weekend as the teams open their season series Wednesday night.
Atlanta (21-29) acquired Bibby from Sacramento (24-28) on Saturday in exchange for starting point guard Anthony Johnson, 2006 first-round pick Shelden Williams, backup point guard Tyronn Lue, veteran forward Lorenzen Wright and a 2008 second-round pick.
Bibby, 29, averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 assists in 15 games for the Kings after missing their first 36 contests while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. He went to Sacramento from Vancouver in a trade before the 2001-02 season and helped the Kings reach the Western Conference finals that season, developing a reputation as an outstanding late-game performer.
In its first game without Bibby, though, Sacramento snapped a three-game losing streak - its longest of 2008 - with a 105-94 win over Portland on Tuesday night.
“After the trade, we feel like we have our team,” said Kings guard Kevin Martin, averaging a team-high 23.2 points per game. “We have to continue to build … starting (Wednesday).”
Atlanta, meanwhile, was looking for a spark after entering the All-Star break with a four-game losing streak, but Bibby was held to just five points and three assists in 16 minutes as the Hawks lost 122-93 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
“It was the second day I was with the guys, you know. It will come,” Bibby said.
This will be Bibby’s first game against Sacramento since April 16, 2001. He is averaging 17.1 points in 12 games against the Kings, but Vancouver lost 11 of those contests.
The Hawks need a better effort from Bibby if they are to avoid losing six straight for the first time since a seven-game skid from March 21-April 4. Atlanta also has lost six straight and 12 of its last 13 on the road. Its only win during that span came against lowly Seattle on Jan. 25.
The Hawks, however, did get some good news Tuesday with Josh Childress scoring 16 points in 30 minutes after missing one game with a hyperextended right knee. The fourth-year swingman is Atlanta’s top reserve, averaging 12.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game while shooting 58.5 percent from the field.
Childress had a game-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting to lead Atlanta to a 99-76 win over Sacramento on March 19 in the teams’ most recent matchup. The Hawks had lost seven in a row to the Kings.
Sacramento forward Ron Artest was held to 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting in that contest. Artest, though, finished with 24 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals against the Trail Blazers.
Artest is averaging 23.6 points and shooting 45.8 percent (11-for-24) from 3-point range in his last eight games.