Nets Battle Kings

Only once has Sacramento had Mike Bibby, Kevin Martin and Ron Artest all start in a home game against New Jersey. The Kings' lineup was different than in years past versus the Nets, but the result was familiar.

With the star trio expected to start together for the first time this season, the Kings look to extend an eight-game home winning streak against the Nets when the teams conclude their season series Tuesday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Sacramento –5.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 201.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on New Jersey +5.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Sacramento (17-22) has won two of three games since Bibby, Martin and Artest began playing together this season, averaging 100.3 points in that span. Now, the trio is expected to start together for the first time since the last game of 2006-07.

Martin returned five games ago after missing 17 straight contests with a sore groin. He came off the bench in his first four games, but had a 20-point effort in his return to the starting lineup Saturday night in a 110-104 win over Indiana. Martin is averaging 26.0 points in five games since returning.

Bibby and Artest have been coming off the bench since both came back from injuries Wednesday night in a loss to Toronto. Bibby had surgery in November to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, causing him to miss Sacramento's first 36 games, while Artest missed nine contests after surgery on his right elbow.

All three are expected to open Tuesday's game on the floor.

"Injuries have been sort of a problem this year," said Kings point guard Beno Udrih, who has been starting in Bibby's place. "We just haven't had a lot of practice together because of the injuries, but everyone knows the plays. It's just getting used to everyone switching positions and being able to see all the action and moving the ball."

Bibby is averaging 15.3 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 53.3 percent (8-for-15) from 3-point range in his first three games of 2007-08. Artest, meanwhile, is averaging 16.5 points in two games following a four-point effort versus the Raptors.

Bibby, Martin and Artest have started one game together against New Jersey in Sacramento, combining for 47 points in an 88-87 win on Jan. 22. Bibby scored the Kings' last 15 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 10.3 seconds to play.

That was the most recent of the Kings' eight straight home victories against the Nets (18-22), who haven't won in Sacramento since an 87-73 victory on Nov. 30, 1997. The Kings also have already beaten the Nets this season, 106-101 on Dec. 18.

New Jersey failed to end another long road losing streak Sunday, losing to the Suns 116-92 for its 14th straight defeat in Phoenix.

The Nets, who will be making the third stop of a six-game trip, have lost five straight overall and three straight on the road. New Jersey has allowed at least 110 points in each of its last three games, including a 120-107 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night in the opener of its current trip.

"Regardless of who you play, defensively we have to be a whole lot better," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said after his team struggled against the high-scoring Suns.

Richard Jefferson scored 24 for the Nets on Sunday as they failed to reach 100 points for the first time in three games. He had a game-high 36 points in this season's first matchup with the Kings.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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