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Sacramento 123, Milwaukee 116

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings have won with defense
since Ron Artest joined the team in late January.

They showed they still have plenty of offensive firepower
Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Mike Bibby scored 36 points, and the Kings tied their season
high for points in a 123-116 victory over the struggling Bucks.

"We've got a lot of guys who can shoot it, plus a defense that
can carry us," Sacramento's Brad Miller said.

The Kings scored 69 first-half points en route to their fifth
win in six games. Sacramento is 1½ games behind the Los Angeles
Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"We need every game from here on out," Bibby said. "We're
trying to put together a couple of strings, win nine out of 10, to
see what we can do and make a run for the playoffs."

The Bucks have lost seven of nine.

"They put us in tough positions, but the first half was totally
unexcusable," Milwaukee's Michael Redd said. "We all have to
start doing a little more."

Sacramento has given up only 94.5 points per game since Artest
joined the team on Jan. 25.

"It's been like a new season since he got here," Miller said.

But Wednesday's win was reminiscent of when the Kings were known
for their offensive firepower. Sacramento had 31 assists and made
34 of 40 free throws to Milwaukee's 15-of-22.

"We are shooting the ball well," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman
said. "I also think guys are looking for each other. If we pass
the ball we are going to find open people."

Only seven players saw action for Sacramento, and six scored in
double figures. The only one who didn't was Artest, and he had nine
points.

"They get you in rotation and put you in situations that make
you look bad, and they did that in the first half," Milwaukee
coach Terry Stotts said.

Bibby scored 15 fourth-quarter points, made all 12 of his free
throws in the game and had five assists.

The Bucks scored eight consecutive points to pull within 110-105
with 1:38 left. Artest then hit two free throws and Miller's
17-footer gave the Kings a 114-105 lead with 56 seconds to go.

Bobby Simmons hit a 3-pointer for Milwaukee, but Sacramento's
Kevin Martin made two free throws to make it 116-108 with 51
seconds left.

The Bucks never got closer than five points the rest of the way.

Redd scored 32 points, T.J. Ford tied a career high with 24
points and Simmons had 21 for Milwaukee, which has lost three
consecutive games.

The Bucks pulled within 90-84 early in the fourth quarter, but
the Kings used a 9-2 run, capped by Artest's 3-pointer, to take a
99-86 lead with 8:57 left.

Sacramento took its biggest lead at 74-59 on Artest's two free
throws with 9:45 left in the third quarter. The Kings led 90-82
entering the fourth.

Thomas' reverse layup with 45 seconds left in the first quarter
gave Sacramento the lead for good, 33-31.

Game notes
Sacramento has scored 123 points in two other games this
season. ... The Bucks also gave up 123 points in a loss at Phoenix
on March 1. ... Bucks G Maurice Williams was inactive due to a
stomach virus. ... The game ended a five-game road trip for the
Kings. They return home Friday night against Memphis, which will be
the team's 300th consecutive home sellout.

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