SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After missing nearly six weeks with a groin injury, Kevin Martin still thinks he needs more time to get back up to speed. It's hard to imagine him playing much better than he did in his second game back from the injury.
Martin scored 39 points in just under 28 minutes and John Salmons hit a game-winning drive with 2.4 seconds remaining to help the Sacramento Kings snap the Dallas Mavericks' seven-game winning streak with a 122-120 victory Monday night.
"For me it's just basketball," Martin said. "I always felt like I could come back and play. It was just a matter of where my wind was. I told coach, 'I can only give you 28 minutes a night right now.' He said, 'As long as they're good.' "
Those minutes were nearly perfect against the Mavericks, putting the Kings in position to win it at the end.
Salmons' length-of-the-court drive capped a wild fourth quarter and led to a boisterous celebration at midcourt for the Kings when Jason Terry missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer. Kings owner Gavin Maloof even joined the party, running from his courtside seat to jump around with his players.
"He almost had to take a charge. He got out there and almost got ran over," coach Reggie Theus said. "It's just great to see. Obviously the Maloofs are some of the best owners in all of sports. There's no doubt about that. Their passion for this team and the game itself is off the charts."
It was hard not to be passionate following this thrilling finish. Terry's three-point play had given Dallas a 118-117 lead with 22.2 seconds remaining, before Martin answered with a three-point play of his own with 11.6 to go. Terry tied it with seven seconds left, setting up Salmons' game-winner that came when the Kings were out of timeouts.
"At the end of the game he did what he does best, take it to the hole," Theus said. "No timeouts left, he got it on the move and made a great play."
Salmons finished with 22 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter. Francisco Garcia also had 22 for the Kings, who had lost six straight to Dallas.
"We were on the top of the stick in the last game," Harris said. "So now we got to take it on the chin this game. That's the way it goes."
Martin hasn't missed a beat since returning from a 17-game absence, making 14 of 16 shots. Martin has 64 points in his two games back despite coming off the bench both games, giving a big boost to the injury-depleted Kings. Martin said he's in no rush to get back in the starting lineup.
"I don't think it's the right time yet," Martin said. "I feel like this is training camp day No. 3. I still need to get my timing down and get my wind back. I'm definitely not ready to play starter minutes right now and I don't need to."
After winning three of four on the homestand, the Kings will get even more help soon. Point guard Mike Bibby is expected to make his season debut Wednesday in Toronto after undergoing surgery on a torn ligament in his left thumb, and forward Ron Artest also could return after missing the previous nine games with an injured right elbow.
The Kings (15-21) have tried to hold it together in the first half of the season despite missing Artest and Martin for 17 games apiece and Bibby for all 36.
"Our team is getting healthier and healthier by the day," Salmons said. "Hopefully we can keep it going. We know we've had a lot of injuries. We just tried to stay afloat until we got these guys back. Hopefully when we get them all back we can make a little push."
Mikki Moore gave Sacramento its first lead since midway through the first quarter when he slammed in an alley-oop pass from Beno Udrih that made it 63-61 about 3 minutes into the third quarter. With Martin and Garcia combining for 17 of the Kings' next 23 points, the lead expanded to 86-77 with less than two minutes remaining in the third. Sacramento led 86-80 entering the fourth quarter.
The Mavericks had trouble stopping the Kings from scoring almost all game. Dallas had held 10 straight opponents under 100 points, but Sacramento topped that on Martin's baseline jumper with 6:02 remaining that made it 101-94.
"We are not going to win many games giving up 122 points," Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. "We just got broken down all over the place. We didn't do a good job protecting the basket. Our support defense wasn't there."
- Martin tied Chicago's Ben Gordon for the most points by a reserve this season. Gordon had 39 in an OT loss to Orlando on Dec. 31.
- Stackhouse missed the game with a strained hamstring. He is day-to-day.
- Sacramento G Dahntay Jones had an impressive block on Brandon Bass' dunk attempt early in the second quarter that got the home crowd fired up.