by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

Coming in cold, Isaiah Thomas stayed ready to play.

After sitting out most of the second half, the rookie point guard entered in the game’s final minute.  With 8.9 seconds remaining and trailing by one, Thomas stole the in-bound pass then dished to a streaking John Salmons for a reverse lay-up.  Thanks to the guard’s hustle, the Sacramento Kings won 99-98 over the New Orleans Hornets in the first of a nine-game home-stand.

“I don’t know how we did it, but we found a way,” said head coach Keith Smart following the win.  “We made a defensive play at the end, with the right pass and the right finish by John Salmons.  I don’t know.  We looked at it and saw that we lost that game, them being up by three with 44 seconds, but we found a way to win a game out of nowhere.”

Solid defense by Tyreke Evans forced Trevor Ariza to miss a fade-away, 16-foot jumper on the ensuing possession.  Evans finished with 13 points, four assists and three rebounds, while Marcus Thornton led the Kings in scoring with 25 points.

Chris Kaman nearly recorded a triple-double for New Orleans, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high eight assists.  Ariza and Jarrett Jack combined for 45, scoring 20 and 25 points, respectively.

Next up for the Kings, a Friday meeting with the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, who make their lone visit to Sacramento this season.


Notes and Analysis

  • The Hornets came to town tonight beat up, but still gave a spirited effort.  All nine, able-bodied players saw action with Carl Landry, Emeka Okafor, Eric Gordon, Gustavo Ayon and Jason Smith all missing the game due to a variety of injuries.
  • Thomas finished the first half with 12 points and two assists in 11 minutes of action.  He finished the game with 12 points and three assists in just 17 minutes. His lone assist in the second half led to the game winner.
  • Jimmer Fredette is getting more and more comfortable with his role off the bench.  In 28 minutes tonight, Jimmer scored 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting and handed out five assists.  Late in the game, he really turned up the speed and even pulled off a couple of crazy crossovers reminiscent of his college days.
  • The Kings need to figure out a way to feed Jason Thompson in the post.  With Cousins out, there is no reason for JT to get only five shots in 32 minutes.
  • Marco Belinelli scored 11 points tonight, but took 16 shots to get there and missed all three of his long-range attempts.
  • Xavier Henry looks and plays like former Sacramento King Tariq Abdul-Wahad.  The resemblance in look and style is uncanny.
  • John Salmons looks like he is finally finding his game from the bench.  While he missed a wide open three-pointer in a crucial situation late, he finished the game with a solid 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
  • Hassan Whiteside scored four points on 2-for-2 shooting, and added a single block and rebound in seven minutes tonight.
  • Stat of the Night: The Kings turned the ball over 13 times tonight, but that doesn’t really tell the story.  The team had only three turnovers in the first half, eight in the third quarter and two in the deciding final period.
    Injury Update

DeMarcus Cousins did not play in tonight’s game due to food poisoning. The Kings are 2-0 in games without Cousins, both contests played against the New Orleans Hornets. We’ll look for an update following tomorrow’s practice.