Guard Marcus Thornton talks to reporters following the Kings' 95-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
When the Kings and Trail Blazers played in Portland on Jan. 23, the Kings trailed by a score of 33-31 halfway through the second quarter. The Trail Blazers then scored 11 consecutive points, encountered little resistance and stretched the lead to 20 before halftime.
Thursday night, the Kings trailed Portland 32-30 early in the second quarter. The Trail Blazers then scored 11 consecutive points -- and the Kings responded immediately, putting together an 8-0 run of their own to keep the game from getting out of hand.
At times this season the Kings have seen a stretch of several bad minutes take on a kind of snowball effect. As forward-center Chuck Hayes said Thursday night, "Once teams usually get going on us, when it rains it pours."
After the Jan. 23 loss in Portland, forward Jason Thompson said that allowing games to get away in those short spans showed "the youth of our team." Head coach Keith Smart later said the Kings needed to better maintain their composure when an opponent goes on a run.
So after the Kings weathered that early Trail Blazers run Thursday and came back in the second half to win 95-92, it was hailed among players as a sign of progress.
"We've gotten better -- we've learned how to handle adversity and respond," Hayes said. "And you can see it in our attitude during the game."
Kings forward-center Chuck Hayes discusses the Kings' defensive effort in the second half against Portland.
Said forward John Salmons: "I think it's just growth. You see growth in the young guys when we're down."
Salmons pointed to the Kings' 92-88 win over the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 18, in which the Kings came back from 16 points down and outscored the Pacers 26-8 in the fourth quarter, as the game that "put us over the hump as far as continuing to play hard when we're down, continuing to fight."
Rookie guard Isaiah Thomas, who played a little over 17 minutes off the bench Thursday, said the Kings are learning to trust each other on the court when they fall behind.
"We know when we get down or we have bad 3- or 4-minute spans, that we can come back and win games," Thomas said. "We did a great job of that (Thursday). Guys just buckled down, played defense, and we got the win."
-- Matt Kawahara