Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

February 10, 2012
Thornton comes through late, and other notes

Center DeMarcus Cousins talks about the impact of the home crowd following the Kings' win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said he refers to Marcus Thornton as "Mr. Big Shot."

Head coach Keith Smart has used no such moniker for the Kings guard. But he demonstrated his confidence in Thornton nonetheless in the Kings' 106-101 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

Thornton had made just 3 of 12 shots when he committed his fourth foul and checked out of the game with 6:48 left in the fourth quarter.

But he re-entered a little more than a minute later and made three of his final four attempts, none bigger than his back-to-back three-pointers with less than three minutes left in the game.

The second tied the score at 97-97 with 2:07 remaining, after the Kings had fallen behind by eight points earlier in the quarter.

"If I lose the game, I was going to lose it with him on the floor," Smart said. "I've got to communicate to him that I understand you're struggling right now, but I trust that you're going to make some big plays at some point.

"Players have the ability to lock into a moment, to be in a zone, to make a shot that has to go down. And he has the ability to do that."

* Thornton fouled out with 25.7 seconds left and the Kings up 103-99. He was replaced by Isaiah Thomas, who immediately made an impact on defense.

After the Thunder in-bounded the ball, Thomas harassed guard Russell Westbrook into losing control of his dribble and committing Oklahoma City's 23rd and final turnover.

"I just wanted to stay in front of him," Thomas said. "He's really fast, so I knew he was going to try to (isolate) me. I just wanted to stay in front of him and I got a hand on the ball, and it went out (of bounds) off of him."

Officials made the call after a video review. Guard Tyreke Evans followed by making two free throws that turned a still tenuous lead into a more comfortable one.

* The Kings have won four of their last five games, and in three of those victories they trailed by at least seven points after halftime before rallying to win.

In the one loss during that stretch, the Kings trailed Minnesota by 11 points in the fourth quarter and came back to tie the game at one point.

"It's, I guess, normal now," Thomas said. "It's something we do. But we need to try to turn it around and play a lot better early so we can be in the game late. We can't always depend on our comebacks."

Forward Donte Greene discusses the play of the Kings' bench against the Thunder and other topics.

* The announced sellout crowd at Power Balance Pavilion was loud and energetic for much of the game. And in the opinion of star Thunder forward Kevin Durant, "it should be like this every night."

"(The Kings) are a young team that drives off of their crowd," Durant told reporters after the game. "I know when we were losing, our crowd was there every night and that helped us. They can have a really good team and they can do well at home because they have a great crowd behind them."

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