Kings Blog and Q&A

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March 7, 2012
Kings defeat Hornets, 99-98

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' win over the New Orleans Hornets at Power Balance Pavilion.

Isaiah Thomas stole an inbounds pass with the Kings down by one and 8.9 seconds left, and found a streaking John Salmons for the eventual game-winning lay-up as the Kings defeated the New Orleans Hornets at Power Balance Pavilion, 99-98.

The Hornets had a chance to win it with 6.8 seconds left, but Trevor Ariza's fadeaway jump shot was well-defended by Tyreke Evans and clanged off the front of the rim.

The Kings, who trailed by six points early in the fourth quarter, snapped their four-game losing streak with three strong defensive possessions in the final minute.

Down 98-97, they forced the Hornets into a shot-clock violation with 19.2 seconds left. After Marcus Thornton missed a potential go-ahead runner, Thomas stole the ball from Marco Belinelli on a Hornets' inbounds pass in the backcourt and found Salmons, who finished with the lay-up.

"I knew if they threw it in the air I could make a play on it," Thomas said. "I got a hand on it and got the ball."

One game after Thornton committed a crippling foul on a last-second shot attempt in Denver, Evans challenged Ariza's last-second jumper without fouling as time expired.

"I don't know how we did it, but we found a way," said Kings head coach Keith Smart. "We made a defensive play at the end, with the right pass and the right finish by John Salmons.

"We looked at it and saw that we lost the game, them being up by three with 44 seconds, but we found a way to win a game out of nowhere."

The Kings forced 23 turnovers and overcame a rough night from the free-throw line and a 54.5-percent shooting night by the Hornets, who took advantage of the absence of DeMarcus Cousins in the middle.

Cousins missed the game with food poisoning. Without him, the Kings were out-rebounded, 41-29, and were out-scored in the paint, 62-50, as the Hornets got into that area at will for much of the game.

Thornton finished with a team-high 25 points. Jason Thompson had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Jimmer Fredette added 11 points and a team-high five assists off the bench.

Evans finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while Thomas had 12 points.

Guard Jarrett Jack led the Hornets with 25 points. Center Chris Kaman finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

The Kings shot 50 percent from the field and converted 23 turnovers by the Hornets into 27 points.

The Kings improved to 13-26 and 9-6 at Power Balance Pavilion in the first game of a nine-game homestand, the longest in franchise history. They also improved to 3-0 against the Hornets this season.

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