SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Coach Rick Adelman had little to do in
the fourth quarter while the Sacramento Kings put the final touches
on a shockingly one-sided win over first-place Phoenix.
Adelman did all his best work last week, when he finally
convinced his players to play the intense defense that led to a
blowout of the high-scoring Suns.
Kevin Martin scored a career-high 25 points, rookie Francisco
Garcia added career-bests of 21 points and 10 rebounds, and the
injury-depleted Kings improbably handed the Suns their biggest loss
of the season, 119-90 on Tuesday night.
Kenny Thomas had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Mike Bibby added
19 before sitting out the final 10½ minutes of the Kings' most
encouraging win in weeks. Brad Miller had 18 points, 12 rebounds
and nine assists for the Kings, who hit a season-high 12 3-pointers
and passed superbly without injured starters Peja Stojakovic,
Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Bonzi Wells.
For all his team's offensive pyrotechnics, Adelman was most
pleased by its canny, lapse-free defense against the NBA's
highest-scoring team, which never got comfortable in its inventive
During last week's road trip, Adelman distributed DVD
anthologies of his players' defensive miscues this season -- and
they're clearly learning their digital lessons.
"(The Kings) were ready to play, they were active, they moved
the ball," Adelman said. "But more importantly, we really
followed our game plan defensively. ... You hope it's going to be a
learning experience for these guys so they can understand that they
can win and they can beat good teams. I'm hoping that's going to be
a really good jump-start."
Though the Suns are the Pacific Division's new power, the Kings
still showed some pride in their disappointing season: The Suns
were beaten for the 10th time in their last 11 visits to
Shawn Marion scored 25 points and Raja Bell added 19 for the
Suns, who fell behind by 24 points in a dismal first half and
eventually lost in regulation for the first time since Dec. 23
while making just 37.5 percent of their shots -- matching their
worst percentage of the season.
"We came out on our heels, and they just stuck it to us,"
Marion said. "They had their eyes wide open and kept on hitting
shots. There is only so much you can do when a team heats up like
Phoenix won nine of its last 11 to take over first place, but
had none of its usual offensive effectiveness against the Kings.
Reigning MVP Steve Nash managed just seven points on 2-of-8
shooting and eight assists for the Suns, who hadn't lost by more
than 12 points all season.
"We didn't want to play tonight," Nash said. "You can't
really say why. You never know. It just sometimes happens when you
play as many games as we do. We didn't play any defense, which got
their confidence going, and it turned out to be one of those nights
when we couldn't make anything."
Martin, a second-year shooting guard, increased his career high
for the fifth time already this season with four 3-pointers and two
impressive alley-oop dunks on passes from Bibby and Miller. Garcia
was just as impressive, hitting two 3s and playing strong defense
"We're learning from our mistakes," Garcia said. "(The
coaches) got on us pretty hard on our mistakes. They're getting
tired of ... seeing us make the same mistakes."
With retired center Vlade Divac watching from courtside, the
Kings rolled off an 18-4 run in the final 3:02 of the first
quarter. Bibby, who scored a career-best 42 points in Sunday's win
over Orlando, hit two 3s in an uptempo offense more effective than
the Suns' scheme.
Sacramento methodically increased its lead in the second while
the Suns went more than 6 minutes between field goals.
"It was a lot of fun," Miller said. "To win really lifts our
spirits against a team like Phoenix. Holding Phoenix to 90 points
is pretty tough to do., and it just really fueled everybody."
The Kings led 65-43 after probably their best first half of the
year, earning a standing ovation from the sellout crowd that has
booed them regularly this season. Sacramento made nearly 58 percent
of its shots and hit six 3-pointers while soundly beating the Suns
on the boards and in transition with a dazzling display.
Sacramento took its first 30-point lead on Thomas' dunk to open
the fourth quarter, then coasted to its third victory in four
Nash scored fewer than 10 points for just the third time this
season, sitting out the final 14:38. Kurt Thomas played 24 minutes,
but went scoreless for just the second time all year.
Adelman is cautiously hopeful all three injured starters
will be in practice Wednesday, though they might not be ready to
get back in uniform. ... Suns G Eddie House, who scored seven
points, spent last season with the Kings and Bibby, his
brother-in-law. ... Divac, who spent six seasons with the Kings,
got a lengthy standing ovation.
Denzel Valentine could land in Chicago's rotation after Derrick Rose departed for New York.
No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons said hearing the news of the death of his cousin "is a reminder to never forget the important things in life."
DeMar DeRozan, arguably the top shooting guard who could hit the free-agent market, is focused on re-signing with the Raptors, a source said.