Sports

Artest tossed in loss

Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko gets his hand on a shot by Kings swingman Kevin Martin
Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko gets his hand on a shot by Kings swingman Kevin Martin AP

SALT LAKE CITY -- It might mean nothing or it might mean everything.

The Ron Artest ejection. The inaugural Reggie Theus technical foul.

The way the Sacramento Kings went down, 127-113, to the Utah Jazz on Friday night with a style more salty than that lake they named this city after.

They lost in a new sort of way, going down together as the antagonists and surviving a night of theatrics from Artest because, well, the chaos never spilled over into full-fledged mayhem.

With the Kings down 10 points with 4:34 remaining, Artest's evening of crowd incitement, delay-of-game warnings, chest pounds and competitive zest of a curious kind came to an end when he was ejected after a second technical foul. His parting shot was relatively minor, a hand-swipe at the arm of Jazz forward Carlos Boozer in a dead-ball moment. The boos would have reached higher than the nearby snowy mountaintops if not for the roof at EnergySolutions Arena, with Artest walking off in contradiction as he reached for high-fives from fans.

It was the latest in what has been a fiery week for Artest, who has taken to stoking opposing crowds, relishing the center-of-attention role in opponents' arenas and having plenty of testy moments near the Kings' bench. He earned his first technical after getting tangled with Jazz bruiser Matt Harpring early in the fourth quarter.

Artest wasn't around to discuss his outing, having been ushered out a side door of the locker room before the media was allowed in. Asked if Artest's chosen style of play helped or hurt the Kings, center Brad Miller stated the obvious.

"Well, we lost," said Miller, who played with Artest in Indiana.

"But that's the intensity that he plays with. I know it more than anybody else, that's for sure. It's just Ron being Ron."

Theus, in essence, took the same stance.

"At that point (in the game), emotions are high," Theus said.

"You've got to be smart about it ... to make sure you don't do anything to get yourself kicked out. But you know what? He's a warrior. He plays hard."

Whether the antics could damage Artest's trade value by scaring off potential suitors is debatable. They clearly had no effect on Harpring.

"He can do whatever he wants," Harpring said. "He's not going to scare me. He's going to ruin his game, and that's what he did. He started getting technicals. That's the way he wants to play. You can't play basketball that way. If you try to bully me or scare me, it's not going to happen."

With 7:52 left in the fourth quarter, a Harpring blow to Kevin Martin's neck prompted the Kings' shooting guard to challenge Harpring.

Artest separated the two, and Theus came halfway out onto the floor to let official Bennett Salvatore know his stance in receiving his first technical of the season.

Martin's 32 points and 15-of-15 shooting from the free-throw line kept the Kings close through three quarters. Up 95-87 entering the fourth, the Jazz went up 14 when a Kyle Korver fadeaway jumper finished a 10-4 run.

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