Kings pull away from Suns
Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton all scored more than 20 points Friday. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
It was a rare win for the Kings (22-42), who had dropped nine of their previous 11 games and escaped the bottom of the Western Conference. Phoenix and New Orleans, both 21-41, now share the worst record in the West.
The Kings shot 55 percent and converted six straight free throws in the final 16 seconds to secure the victory. Marcus Thornton made five 3-pointers and scored 23 points for the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for Sacramento. Jason Thompson had 12 points.
Michael Beasley scored 24 points for the Suns, who had beaten the Kings in five straight, including twice this season. Wesley Johnson had 19 points and Goran Dragic had 17 points and 16 assists. Luis Scola had 14 points and nine rebounds.
After two very subpar games, Cousins came out strong in the opening quarter when he scored the Kings' first eight points. He made all three shots in the first quarter and had 10 rebounds and five assists.
Down by 11 points, the Suns scored seven straight with Johnson's two free throws to cut the lead to 116-112 with 46 seconds left. Evans converted two free throws to give the Kings a six-point cushion.
In his previous two games, both losses, Cousins shot a combined 3 of 23 and had 13 points. He also appeared disinterested, and Kings coach Keith Smart didn't play him the majority of the fourth quarter in both games.
Trailing by 11, the Suns ran off nine unanswered points to pull within 98-95. But Thornton followed with a 3-pointer and added two jumpers, giving the Kings a 109-100 lead with 4:34 remaining.
The Suns played without starting center Marcin Gortat, who had started
138 straight games. Gortat suffered a mid-foot sprain to his right foot in Wednesday's lopsided 98-71 home loss to Toronto and maybe lost for the season.
After going scoreless in the third quarter, Cousins tossed into a left-handed hook shot over the Suns' Hamed Haddadi. The basket at the
8:52 mark gave Sacramento a 96-85 lead.
Sacramento is trying to keep the team in the city and not be sold to a Seattle group. Commissioner David Stern commented on the issue Friday night before the Houston-Golden State game in Oakland.
Stern noted that the Kings' offer to keep the team in Sacramento was substantially lower than the $341 million being offered by Seattle hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and needed to be increased.
Stern said he expected the offer to buy the Kings from the Maloof family ownership by 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and billionaire Ron Burkle would increase in the coming weeks.
Sacramento Mayor, Kevin Johnson, who attended the game, said he remains confident an appropriate offer will be made to keep the team in Sacramento. Johnson and city officials are also working on a downtown arena plan. The NBA board of governors is expected to vote in mid-April on the fate of the Kings.
Thomas continued his torrid shooting in the third quarter, scoring 11 points and helping the Kings take an 89-82 lead into the fourth. His 3-pointer gave Sacramento a 76-69, its biggest margin in the quarter.
Cousins had a huge first half with 18 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who led 59-57. Thomas made all three 3-point attempts and scored 13 points. Scola, Johnson and Dragic all had 10 points for Phoenix.
Notes: Thompson had one rebound and needs six more to tie Peja Stojakovic (2,581) for seventh place for most rebounds in the Sacramento era. ... The Suns were also missing post player Jermaine O'Neal, who left the team to be with his 13-year-old daughter, who is undergoing surgery to repair a leaking heart valve. ... Lindsey Hunter won his debut as interim Suns head coach in a Jan. 20 game at Sacramento. ... Sacramento shot 54 percent in the first half. ... Hall of Famer Pete Carril, a former Kings assistant coach, sat near the Kings bench for a second straight game.