Kings 102, Pacers 98

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—Sacramento Kings coach Eric Musselman knows it will take plenty from his other players to make up for Ron Artest’s absence.

In Sacramento’s first game since its star forward’s arrest for domestic violence, a 102-98 victory over Indiana, Musselman got help from nearly everyone.

John Salmons started in Artest’s place Tuesday night and had eight assists. Francisco Garcia provided steady defense off the bench. And once again, Kevin Martin picked up the scoring load.

Martin shook off a second-half shooting slump to convert a key three-point play late in the fourth quarter.

“We had a lot of guys contribute in a lot of areas, which is what we’re going to need,” Musselman said. “Obviously at the pace Ron was playing at—he was playing at an all-league pace of late. It will be important to have a lot of guys step up.”

Sacramento blew nearly all of a 20-point lead before Martin drove the baseline, drew contact from Mike Dunleavy and hit a jumper, just his second basket of the second half. The free throw gave the Kings a 100-94 lead with 53.9 seconds to go, and they held on for their fourth straight win.

“We couldn’t give this lead up,” guard Mike Bibby said. “It would have looked really bad.”

Martin finished with 27 points, once again stepping up in Artest’s absence. He is averaging 27.7 points in nine games missed by Artest. Sacramento has won the last four without Artest and will have to get used to playing without him.

Artest was arrested Monday after a woman inside his home called 911 and said she had been assaulted. Artest slapped the woman’s face and grabbed her repeatedly, causing visible injuries, according to a sheriff’s report made public Tuesday.

The Kings indefinitely removed the troubled Artest from the team while they seek more information.

“We know he’s a great player,” Garcia said. “We’re going to miss him. We miss him right now. But we still have to go out there and do our job and win games no matter what. We can’t worry about it. We know it happened and we have to move forward.”

It’s the latest in a line of incidents involving Artest, who was at the center of the 2004 brawl between Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans. Artest was suspended for the rest of that season—73 games, plus the playoffs—in a move that cost him almost $5 million. Indiana traded him to Sacramento last season.

Bibby added 22 points for the Kings, who moved within one game of the Los Angeles Clippers for eighth place in the Western Conference.

Dunleavy scored 24 points to lead the Pacers, who have lost six straight. Jermaine O’Neal added 22 and Troy Murphy had 21 as Indiana lost to Sacramento for the second time this season with Artest sidelined.

“He’s a great defender and it makes a difference when he’s not there,” Murphy said. “We missed him twice, but we couldn’t win either game.”

The Pacers fell behind by 20 points midway through the third quarter before responding with a 16-0 run that took advantage of frequent defensive lapses by the Kings. Murphy scored eight points and Dunleavy added six as Indiana got to the basket with ease.

Garcia’s 3-pointer ended the Sacramento drought and sent the Kings into the fourth quarter with an 81-74 lead,

Bibby appeared to put Sacramento in control by scoring 12 points during a 14-4 run that made it 78-58 with 5:41 to go in the third period. After making only one basket in the half, Bibby made all five of his shots during the run, including a pair of 3-pointers.

The Kings had gone more than 11 quarters without trailing, before falling behind 3-0. Salmons’ three-point play less than 2 minutes into the game erased that lead and Sacramento didn’t fall behind again.

The Kings scored the final eight points of the first quarter, including six by Martin, to take a 30-22 lead. The final two points came after Danny Granger fouled Ronnie Price about 70 feet from the basket with 1.9 seconds left.

Sacramento also closed the second quarter with six straight points, extending the lead to 57-42 at halftime behind 56 percent shooting.

“We’ve got to stop people,” Indiana guard Jamaal Tinsley said. “We’re not stopping anyone. We have to play better defensively.”

Notes

Musselman told Martin when he replaced him early in the second quarter, “I know you want to play all game, but you have to take a rest.” Martin ended up playing nearly 40 minutes. … Sacramento is 5-4 without Artest this season.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Indiana
M. Dunleavy M. Dunleavy
10-14,  24 Pts
3 Rebs, 2 Assists
 Sacramento
K. Martin K. Martin
8-17,  27 Pts
7 Rebs, 1 Assists

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Rebounds
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Tuesday, Mar 6