AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Finally, a good experience at Detroit for Ron Artest.

Artest came off the bench Friday night to score 18 points, including a key basket late in the game, and lift the Sacramento Kings to a 100-93 victory over the Pistons.

Artest, suspended 73 games after instigating a Nov. 2004 brawl here, made a 3-pointer with less than 4 minutes to go to give the Kings a cushion they’d never lose.

Chauncey Billups had 28 points and Richard Hamilton added 24 for the Pistons, who have lost two of their last three and were swept by the Kings in the season series.

Trailing 96-93, the Pistons got two good looks at a tying shot in the final minute but missed both attempts. Mike Bibby converted a running layup with 18 seconds to play to put away the game for the Kings, who ended a three-game road losing streak.

The Pistons were 7-for-21 from the floor in the second quarter, when Sacramento outscored them 33-19 to take a 56-48 halftime lead. A 10-2 run midway through the third quarter got Detroit back in the game.

Kevin Martin scored 24 points and Brad Miller added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Kings, who beat the Pistons 105-95 in Sacramento on Nov. 18. Bibby had 16 points.

Artest (elbow) and Bibby (thumb), each of whom returned from injuries Wednesday, did not start the game. Coach Reggie Theus said he wanted to ease the usual starters back into the lineup.

Tayshaun Prince had 15 points and Antonio McDyess added 14 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit, which begins a three-game road trip Saturday.

Notes: Artest played his second game at Detroit since the Nov. 19, 2004, brawl. He drew a loud chorus of boos when he entered the game late in the first quarter. … Friday’s crowd of 22,076 was the 203rd straight sellout at The Palace of Auburn Hills. … Recently retired University of Michigan football Lloyd Carr sat courtside Friday.

AP-ES-01-18-08 2252EST


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