Salmons scores 22 points to lead Kings to 96-93 victory over Bucks
It almost didn’t happen for the mostly lethargic Kings, who rallied in the fourth quarter behind John Salmons’ 22 points for a 93-90 victory over the slumping Milwaukee Bucks.
Trailing in a back-and-forth final quarter that saw nine lead changes, Ron Artest made a driving layup to put the Kings ahead for good, 95-93, with 52 seconds left. Following a steal by Brad Miller, Salmons made a free throw for a 96-93 lead with 14 seconds remaining.
Michael Redd, who led the Bucks with 24 points, missed a 3-pointer from the corner in the closing seconds, sending Milwaukee to its fourth straight loss and eighth in nine games.
“They were flying at me and I pump faked it and thought I had a pretty clean look, I just missed it,” Redd said.
Artest secured the rebound for Sacramento and the victory for the Kings, who snapped a two-game losing streak and start a five-game road trip Wednesday in Boston. The Kings, who outscored the Bucks 30-19 in the fourth quarter, are the only NBA team without a road win this season, going 0-8.
“Oh yeah, this was real important,” said Francisco Garcia, whose play in the fourth quarter sparked the Kings reserves, who rallied the team from a 10-point deficit. “We’re going on the road for five games, we needed this one badly. We showed some energy in the fourth quarter, we finally got going and found a way to win.”
Salmons, starting in place of injured Kevin Martin for the third straight game, played a key role at both ends. He scored seven points in the fourth quarter and finished with five assists and two steals. On defense, he helped cool off Redd, who had only eight points in the second half.
“Salmons’ defense was about as tough as it can get – you can’t guard anybody any tougher than that without fouling,” Kings coach Reggie Theus said. “I thought he made it tough for Redd to play tonight.”
Miller had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who are 8-4 this year at home. Garcia made two 3-pointers, all three free throws and scored 15 points, while Beno Udrih added 14.
Artest continued to struggle offensively for the Kings and finished with 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Artest missed his first seven shots and didn’t make a field goal until just before halftime.
But the hustling Artest delivered in other ways, tying a career-high with four blocks and adding seven rebounds, five assists and a steal.
Artest and the Kings continued to struggle offensively in the absence of leading scorer Martin, who missed his third straight game because of a strained right groin and is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks.
“We’ve got to get used to playing without Kevin,” Artest said. “We’ve got John (Salmons) back in the lineup and now we’re just starting to get used to that again. We got a win tonight when we didn’t play well, that was important.”
Andrew Bogut had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks, who have lost four straight and eight of nine. Mo Williams contributed 12 points and nine assists, and Charlie Villanueva scored 11 points.
The loss ended a 1-4 road trip for the Bucks, who were expected to stay overnight in Sacramento due to poor weather in Milwaukee.
“The airport is closed in Milwaukee and we weren’t going to get back until the middle of the night anyway, so it might not be such a bad thing for us to get a good night’s rest in Sacramento,” Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
In Milwaukee, officials at Mitchell International Airport said it wasn’t closed as of 1 a.m., although an approaching ice storm was expected to hit the area a few hours later.
Picking up their energy at both ends of the court, the Kings awakened in the fourth quarter when an early 10-point run fueled by two 3s by Garcia got them back in the game.
Notes: Before the game the Kings signed swingman Dahntay Jones and waived rookie C Darryl Watkins, who saw minimal playing time in nine games this season. Jones averaged 7.5 points last season with Memphis. .. Redd made two 3-pointers and scored 16 points in the first half which finished with Milwaukee leading 49-47. ... Miller made two free throws in the second quarter to reach 7,000 points for his career.