T-Wolves Hit Road

The Sacramento Kings were struggling when they were at full strength. Losing their two leading scorers didn't help matters.

After their slump continued while playing without Kevin Martin and Ron Artest in their last outing, the Kings hope to have their top offensive options back as they host the reeling Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

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Martin, Sacramento's leading scorer at 22.6 points per game, missed the team's 116-109 double-overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night because of a bruised right thumb. Artest, second on the club with 19.9 points per contest, joined Martin on the sidelines with a sore right foot.

The short-handed Kings (27-34) put together a solid effort given the circumstances, but fatigue set in as they gave up 19 points in the second overtime and lost for the sixth time in seven games.

"It was a long game," said Kings coach Reggie Theus, whose club fell to 0-9 against Pacific Division rivals. "We had it in our hands a couple of times and just let it go. We had several opportunities to finish the game."

It's unclear when Martin and Artest will be able to return, but both are listed as day-to-day.

The Kings are 3-5 when playing without both Martin and Artest this season. That record could be a lot worse if not for John Salmons and Francisco Garcia, who have stepped up to average 21.8 and 16.0 points, respectively, in those contests.

Regardless of who's on the court, the Kings hope to snap out of their funk by taking advantage of the Timberwolves (12-48), losers of five in a row and 12 of 14.

Minnesota is in the midst of a five-day, four-game stretch, and has dropped the first two contests by an average of 24.5 points. The Wolves never recovered from a sloppy first half in their 105-76 loss at Utah on Wednesday.

"They got a 12-point lead in the first half and in the second half we came out with no energy, (not) much intensity and kind of gave up," Minnesota point guard Sebastian Telfair said.

Wolves guard Randy Foye led the team with 18 points, but shot 5-for-15 from the field as Minnesota connected on only 37.5 percent of its shots.

"This game is over. We can't think about it going into Sacramento," Foye said.

The Timberwolves are in last place in the West, due in large part to a league-worst 2-26 road record. The Wolves, who close a three-game trip against the Clippers on Saturday, have lost six straight away from home since beating Golden State on Jan. 21.

Minnesota and Sacramento have split their first two meetings this season, each winning at home. Martin led the Kings with 29 points in their 100-93 victory Nov. 10, while the Wolves got 33 points from Rashad McCants in a 108-103 win Nov. 14.

Minnesota center Al Jefferson is shooting 56.3 percent (18-for-32) from the field against the Kings this season.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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