NBA Basketball: Indiana Pacers at Sacramento Kings - Kings Favored

Team Page: Indiana :: Sacramento

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For the second time in nine days, off-court drama surrounding Ron Artest threatens to overshadow a game between the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers.

One day after Artest was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, the troubled forward will not be in uniform when his Kings host the Pacers - his former team.

Oddsmakers have made Sacramento -4.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 200.5

total points (View NBA Sports Books).

Local authorities arrested Artest around 9:30 a.m. Monday at his five-acre estate in the Sacramento suburb of Loomis, Calif. The deputies arrived on the scene after a woman reported Artest had shoved her to the floor inside his home and prevented her from calling 911.

The former NBA defensive player of the year was booked into the Placer County Jail and later released on $50,000 bail, with his arraignment scheduled for March 22. Following the incident, the Kings announced they were removing Artest from the team pending a full investigation.

"The Kings have excused Ron Artest indefinitely from any further participation with the team due to his arrest today for domestic violence,'' club president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie said in a statement.

Artest, whom the Kings (27-32) acquired from the Pacers for Peja Stojakovic on Jan. 25, 2006, also had a turbulent stay in Indiana highlighted by the Nov. 19, 2004 brawl between Pacers players and Pistons fans at Detroit. Two days after entering the stands and punching fans during that melee, Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season - 73 games plus the playoffs.

When the Kings traveled to Indiana for a Feb. 25 matchup, Artest did not show up at the game for unspecified personal reasons. Despite the absence of Artest's 18.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, Sacramento won that contest 110-93 as Kevin Martin scored 35 points and Mike Bibby added 28.

The victory was the seventh for the Kings in their last nine meetings with the Pacers.

Sacramento returns home in search of its fourth straight win overall after defeating the Trail Blazers 104-96 at Portland on Saturday. Artest had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Martin scored 15 of his team-high 33 points in the first quarter.

Martin is averaging 29.4 points and shooting 51.6 percent from the field over his last five games, a span which began with the win at Indiana.

"Kevin Martin's got a bounce in his step right now,'' Kings coach Eric Musselman said. "He's in a groove and there couldn't be a better time for it.''

The Kings, who have won seven of their last eight at Arco Arena, will try to take advantage of an Indiana (29-29) club mired in a season-high five-game losing streak.

The Pacers offense is averaging just 85.4 points per game during the skid, and appeared to hit rock bottom Saturday at Los Angeles, posting the team's lowest point total since the 2003-04 season in an 87-64 loss to the Clippers.

"We just couldn't get the job done,'' said Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal, who with nine points failed to reach double figures for the first time since an eight-point effort Nov. 15 at Boston. "When you point the finger, you have to point it at everyone. That is something we have to get going pretty fast if we want to get to the playoffs.''

The slump has dropped Indiana into seventh place in the Eastern Conference, two games in front of Orlando and New Jersey and only 2 1/2 ahead of 10th-place New York.

The Pacers conclude their four-game road trip against teams from the West with a Wednesday visit to Northwest Division-leading Utah.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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