Playing his first game in nearly three weeks, Martin came off the bench to score 20 points and the Kings snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 92-90 Tuesday night.
Even the return of Martin, whose sore left ankle sidelined him for 22 of the previous 24 games, including 10 straight, couldn't help the struggling Kings in the fourth quarter when they scored only two points in the final 4:28. But the injury-plagued Clippers were even more inept down the stretch, failing to score in the last 3:03 while losing their fourth straight game.
"It was good to be back out with the guys. Everyone needed a win," said Martin, who missed all five shots in the fourth quarter when the Kings outscored Los Angeles 20-17 to secure only their third home win in the last 14 games. "It's tough to sit out, you don't feel part of the team, whether you are on a 20-game winning streak or a 20-game losing streak. You want to be out there."
The lead went back and forth in the final quarter until both teams went cold. Brad Miller put the Kings ahead 92-90 on two free throws with 45.7 seconds left and Sacramento won for the first time this season when trailing in the fourth quarter.
It helped that the Clippers missed 16 of 19 shots in the fourth, including their final six. Los Angeles shot 35.7 percent overall.
"We got off to a bad start and dug ourselves a hole that we had to climb out of and spend a lot of energy," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We had some great looks down the stretch that we just didn't make to win the ballgame."
Martin entered midway through the first quarter and connected on his first shot a minute later. He scored seven points in helping the Kings race out to a 27-12 first-quarter lead.
The Kings' leading scorer this season, Martin made only five of 14 shots, but connected on all eight free throws and added five rebounds.
"He's been our leader all year and not having him out there on the floor has been tough," said Kings interim coach Kenny Natt, who is 2-6 since replacing Reggie Theus. "He knows how to play. The visiting team, the opponents, they respect him and what he brings to the table. It's just great to have Kevin back."
Miller had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and John Salmons also had 15 points for Sacramento, which lost 19 of its previous 22 games. Beno Udrih had 13 points and Jason Thompson added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Rookie guard Eric Gordon scored 24 points for the Clippers, while Paul Davis had a career-high 18. But he missed a foul-line jumper in the closing seconds that could have sent the game into overtime.
Scoreless in the first half, Marcus Camby finished with 15 points and 24 rebounds. Bothered by a sore back, Baron Davis shot 3-of-17 and scored 11 points.
"I remember the old Arco [Arena] when I was coming up," said Camby, who had nine points and eight rebounds in the fourth quarter. "It used to be the loudest arena in the league, you couldn't get a seat. Now you come in here and it looks like [WNBA] Monarchs crowd. Teams never used to get wins here."
The Kings were coming off their worst home loss in franchise history, 108-63 on Sunday night to the Celtics. The point total and the Kings' 27.9 shooting percentages were NBA lows this season.
"After the Boston game we had to take a look in the mirror and start playing harder," Salmons said. "Actually, that game brought us together. We talked about it and really wanted to play better. It showed with our energy in the first quarter."
It was a career night for Paul Davis, the lesser known of the Clippers' three players with the same last name, who made his first start of the season. Taking advantage of the Kings' soft interior defense, the seldom-used forward surpassed his career high of 15 points by midway through the third quarter.
"We were the ones that kind of gave it away," Paul Davis said. "Some things hurt us. We could have taken better shots when we had the chances. But we just have to move on. The freak things are going to happen."
Gordon and Paul Davis continued to bother the Kings in the third quarter. They both had eight points as Los Angeles outscored Sacramento 32-23 to take a 73-72 lead into the fourth.
The Kings led by as many as 17 points and were ahead 49-41 at halftime.
Starting center Zach Randolph, who has averaged 23.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in his 14 games since coming over from New York in a trade, missed his second straight game with a bruised left knee. The Clippers were also minus Ricky Davis, suspended Monday for five games for violating the league's drug policy.
Kings post player Spencer Hawes missed the game with a strained abdomen. ... The Clippers shot 6-of-24 and were outrebounded 19-9 in the opening quarter. ... The Clippers started a stretch of seven games in 11 days. They host Philadelphia on Wednesday night.