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Kings Look For Win In Atlanta

Strong defense helped the Sacramento Kings end one of their longest losing streaks of the season. It's also a large reason for their success against the Atlanta Hawks.

After ending a five-game skid, the Kings look to win their eighth straight from the lowly Hawks when the teams conclude their season series Monday night.

Sacramento (29-37) had given up at least 100 points in five straight losses before a 95-83 win at Orlando on Saturday night.

Oddsmakers have made Sacramento -2.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 198.5 total points (View NBA Sports Books). Our public betting information shows that 84% of bets for this game have been placed

Stron Sacramento -2.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

The Kings held the Magic to 31 points in the second half and 41.9 percent shooting overall en route to one of their best defensive games of the season.

"That was our best half without a doubt - the second half - defensively," Sacramento coach Eric Musselman said.

Despite boasting one of the NBA's best defensive players in Ron Artest, the Kings rank among the league's worst teams in scoring defense, allowing an average of 101.5 points.

They never seem to have much trouble against the Hawks (26-41), however. Sacramento has held Atlanta to 92.1 points during a seven-game run since a 115-104 loss on Jan. 24, 2003. The Kings are averaging 106.4 points in that span .

Against the Magic, the Kings capitalized at the free-throw line by sinking 42 of 48 attempts. Kevin Martin, the Kings' leading scorer with 20 points, was 1-of-8 from the field but 17-for-20 from the line.

"That's definitely shocking," said Martin, who bounced back from a nine-point performance in a loss to Miami the previous night. "I've never seen that happen before."

Artest added 19 points and Mike Bibby 16 for the Kings. Bibby is averaging 17.7 points and shooting 42.1 percent from 3-point range in 15 games against the Hawks.

Bibby made two from long range as Sacramento shot 57.3 percent from the field in a 117-92 home win over Atlanta on Dec. 10. The Hawks were without Joe Johnson, who had his then-NBA-leading streak of 376 straight games snapped due to a strained right calf, and they haven't been without their leading scorer lately either.

Johnson, who averages 25.0 points, has missed six straight with a calf injury. Atlanta won its first four games without the All-Star guard, but has now lost two straight by a combined 45 points.

The Hawks allowed Indiana to shoot 53.2 percent from the field and end an 11-game skid following a 113-90 loss on Saturday night.

"If you're struggling defensively, you'd better hope the other team does too," said Atlanta coach Mike Woodson, whose team gave up 109 points in a loss to Boston on Wednesday night. "You can't beat a team if you don't have some sort of defensive presence."

Atlanta, though, has won a season-high four straight at Philips Arena. A win over the Kings would give the Hawks five straight home wins for the first time since concluding their final five home games of 2002-03.

Josh Smith had 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks to lead Atlanta on Saturday. He is averaging only 8.6 points in his last three games against Sacramento.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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