Originally Posted by NBA.com
Kings Look for Fourth Straight Win, Host Bulls
By NICOLINO DI BENEDETTO, STATS Writer=
Posted Feb 8 2007 12:30AM
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2006-07 Stats at a GlanceNBA.com Daily Confidential
With their coach back from a suspension, the Sacramento Kings look to continue their dominance of the Chicago Bulls and match their longest winning streak of the season on Thursday.
Sacramento (20-26) has won 14 of the last 15 meetings with Chicago (28-21), including seven in a row at Arco Arena. The Bulls haven't won there since Nov. 23, 1997.
The Kings look to extend that streak in coach Eric Musselman's first game since serving a two-game league suspension for driving under the influence after an exhibition game on Oct. 21.
The team did fine without him, winning both games as assistant Scott Brooks took over. A victory Thursday would be the Kings' fourth in a row, equaling their season-best win streak from Nov. 6-15.
Ron Artest scored 20 points and tied a career high with nine assists on Monday as Sacramento beat New Orleans 105-99. It was the Kings' fourth consecutive home win after losing four in a row at Arco, three in overtime.
"This is our court and we feel like we have a great home-court advantage," Brooks said. "When the crowd is behind us, it gives us that extra lift."
The victory was the Kings' third in a row against teams they are chasing in the Western Conference playoff race. They won 100-98 at Minnesota on Jan. 31 before returning home to beat Denver 94-87 on Saturday.
"We come in here every day already focused on the standings," Kings leading scorer Kevin Martin said. "These past three games that we have won we knew were crucial because they were all teams that are in front of us in our conference. We feel like they are 2-for-1 games."
Artest has been key during the three-game run, averaging 21.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.3 steals. He's 7-for-10 from 3-point range in that span.
Artest looks to get continued support from Mike Bibby, who shot 7-for-12 from the field for 19 points on Monday. The point guard, whose 17.2 scoring average this season is his lowest since 2002-03, was held to 24 points on 8-of-30 shooting over the previous two games.
Bibby has averaged 24.4 points in the last five games against the Bulls, including 23 in an 89-88 win at Chicago on Nov. 3. Martin had 30 points in the matchup, including the go-ahead jumper with 6.4 seconds left.
Bulls leading scorer Ben Gordon was held to five points in that game, and had another poor outing Monday as he went 4-of-12 from the field for 11 points in a 100-95 loss at Utah.
Chicago was without top reserve Andres Nocioni, who is likely to be out until after the All-Star break due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
"He's been playing hurt, and we don't want to have him continue playing hurt the rest of the year," coach Scott Skiles said. "We want to bring it to an end."
Nocioni, who is averaging 15.0 points, will remain with the Bulls as they continue on their seven-game road trip. They've split the first four games.
The team went 1-6 on a seven-game trip in November and is 8-15 away from home this season, compared to 20-6 in Chicago.
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