NBA Basketball: San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings - Spurs Favored
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In their last outing, the Sacramento Kings managed to keep their winning streak going despite the distractions surrounding Ron Artest's off-court problems. It may be tougher to keep the run alive, though, when the red-hot San Antonio Spurs visit Arco Arena on Thursday.
The Spurs (43-18) have won 10 in a row, their longest streak since an 11-game run to close out the 2003-04 season. San Antonio, which is finishing a four-game road trip, had won its previous five contests by at least 10 points before beating Portland 99-94 on Tuesday.
The Kings (28-32) extended their win streak to four with a 102-98 victory over Indiana on Tuesday, the first of what figures to be many games missed by Artest, who was arrested Monday on suspicion of domestic violence and using force or violence to prevent the woman from reporting a crime.
According to a sheriff's report, Artest slapped his victim's face and grabbed her repeatedly, causing visible injuries. The woman's relationship to Artest hasn't been disclosed, though a 3-year-old girl can be heard on the background of the 911 tape talking to "Mommy" and "Daddy."
Deputies have responded to five 911 calls from Artest's home since August, including two domestic disturbances between Artest and his wife, Kimsha, and this incident is just the latest in a series of legal troubles for the star forward. He's been indefinitely removed from the team, but will continue to receive his salary.
"I think everybody understands that we have to move forward," Kings coach Eric Musselman said. "We're concerned and we want the best for him and his family."
With Tuesday's victory, Sacramento improved to 5-4 without Artest this season. Kevin Martin scored 27 points and the Kings held on after nearly blowing a 20-point lead.
"We know he's a great player," Kings guard Francisco Garcia said of Artest. "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."
The Kings, who have won eight of their past nine at Arco Arena, finish a three-game homestand on Sunday against Denver.
San Antonio is looking for its seventh straight road victory after coming back from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Trail Blazers. Manu Ginobili scored 12 of his 23 points in the final quarter and Michael Finley scored 20 as the Spurs got 56 points from their bench.
"It was awesome," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said of his team's 14-4 run in the fourth quarter. "I loved watching it. Watching Manu do what he does was an incredible stretch to watch. Mike Fin has been playing unbelievable off the bench."
Tony Parker returned after missing two games with a strained left hip, but didn't play in the second half. Still, San Antonio has bounced back nicely after losing four of five games at the start of February.
"Confidence grows as you win," Duncan said. "Every step we take, we believe in each other more and more."
San Antonio has won both games with Sacramento this season and six of the last seven between the teams. The Spurs are also one of the few clubs to have success in Arco Arena, winning six of the last eight there.
San Antonio beat Sacramento 4-2 in the first round of last season's playoffs.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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