Sacramento is loving Artest
(Sports Network) – The Sacramento Kings are back in the thick of the
playoff race in the Western Conference. Early on in the campaign it looked
like the Kings were in jeopardy of missing the postseason for the first time
since the 1997-98 season.
The difference in the Kings play can be credited to the addition of forward
Ron Artest, who was acquired from Indiana for sharp-shooting Peja Stojakovic
on January 25th. With Artest in the lineup, Sacramento has compiled a 14-7
record and has played with a new intensity and passion that has the m moving
up in the standings.
Artest has fit right in with his new teammates. The Kings already had a
talented point guard in Mike Bibby along with center Brad Miller, who had
played with Artest in Chicago and Indiana. Swingman Bonzi Wells, forwards
Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Kenny Thomas and guard Kevin Martin give Sacramento
talent and depth on its roster.
By trading Stojakovic, the Kings rid themselves of a player who is very
talented but was unhappy with his current situation in Sacramento. Even though
Artest is not the outside shooter that Stojakovic is, he is one of the best
defenders in the NBA and is very capable on the offensive end of the court as
Originally selected out of St. John’s by Chicago in the first round (16th
overall) of the 1999 NBA Draft, Artest has averaged 18.1 points, 5.2 rebounds,
3.2 assists and 2.43 steals in 21 games in a Sacramento uniform. He has helped
the Kings in areas where they struggled, such as their interior and perimeter
The Kings improved to 32-31 and moved into the eighth and final playoff spot
in the West when they defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 85-80, at ARCO Arena.
They have won four straight games and seven of their last eight contests
Artest played over 43 minutes and finished with 15 points, while Miller netted
17, pulled down 10 boards and handed out six assists in the win over Dallas.
Bibby scored 12 and dished out four assists and Martin ended with 14 points on
5-of-9 from the floor.
“I’m really proud of our team tonight,” said head coach Rick Adelman after the
win over the Mavericks. “I think we came with the right attitude playing this
team. It’s an excellent team, they got on us pretty well in the third quarter.
I thought we missed so many shots in the third quarter, we just couldn’t get
any of them down but we stayed with it and scrambled defensively. In the
fourth quarter we finally got some stops and it was a great win.
“This is the type of home game that really gives you a boost. You’re going to
have to win these if you’re going to make the playoffs. We talked about
winning on the road but this is the type of game you have to win at home. We
have another big one on Tuesday. I’m just really proud of the way the guys
competed and played tonight.”
The win over Dallas lifted the Kings over .500 for the first time in the
Sacramento will play nine of its final 19 games at home this season. The Kings
are a solid 21-11 at ARCO Arena, but are just 11-20 as the visitor. Indiana
and Washington are the only two games remaining on the scheduled against
Eastern Conference opponents.
With Artest on the court, Sacramento is a different team. The Kings are
capable of making a big stop defensively and there appears to be more of an
intense effort on defense.
The acquisition of Artest was a gamble that has paid off.