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March 8, 2012
Video: Smart puts his faith in defense, and other notes

Guard Tyreke Evans talks about the Kings' late defense and other topics following the team's 99-98 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

Keith Smart was prepared to place the outcome of Wednesday night's game against the New Orleans Hornets in the hands of his team's defense.

After forcing a shot-clock violation with 19.2 seconds to play, the Kings had the ball down by one point, 98-97. Smart said that in the timeout, he told Marcus Thornton to look for a quick basket rather than hold for the last shot.

Smart said he wanted to shift the pressure back to the Hornets to score.

"I looked at it as we had to get a score, get up, and then have a chance to play defense," Smart said. "I trust these guys (the Kings) to make shots. But I'm not in love with that trust yet."

It didn't work exactly as planned, as Thornton missed.

But the quick shot left enough time for the Kings to foul on the Hornets' first inbounds play, then go for a steal on the ensuing one. After John Salmons' go-ahead lay-up with 6.8 seconds left, the Kings had to close out the game out on defense anyway.

"That gave us some life," said forward Jason Thompson.

* Smart said the play out of the timeout was designed for Thornton to drive to his right. Thornton went left and had his short jump shot contested.

Thornton said he felt he had an opening there.

"I felt the guy playing me to my right and I felt I had the left," Thornton said. "But all the guys said the right was open. I'm going to take a look at that, see where I can improve. Just happy we got the win, man."

Kings guard Isaiah Thomas addresses the media following the Kings' win over the Hornets.

* Guard Isaiah Thomas, whose steal allowed the Kings to come away with the 99-98 win, sat out nearly the entire fourth quarter before re-entering with 57.6 seconds to play.

Head coach Keith Smart said that was primarily to get a bigger defender on Hornets guard Jarrett Jack. The 6-foot-3 Jack had 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting through the first three quarters. He finished with 25 points.

"He was doing an incredible job of really trying to force his way to the basket," Smart said of Jack. "And that's one luxury I have on this team -- we have a lot of size at different positions, and I can kind of mix and match and put those guys in the game when we have a powerful point guard.

"I needed size on him. I thought John (Salmons) did a great job of really filling in the second half."

Forward Jason Thompson talks about the Kings' interior defense without DeMarcus Cousins and other topics following Wednesday night's game.

* With J.J. Hickson inactive and DeMarcus Cousins out with food poisoning, center Hassan Whiteside got into Wednesday night's game early for the second game in a row.

Whiteside played 7 minutes, 33 seconds, made both his shot attempts and finished with four points, one rebound and a block.

Smart said he believes the second-year center was able to "settle down a great deal" during a D-League stint earlier this season. Smart sees the 7-foot Whiteside as a big man capable of running the floor, blocking shots and attacking the offensive glass.

"He's coming along," Smart said. "I think we've taken the project off the table now, and now he's on the floor, walking."

* Smart quipped that it was a "miracle" the Kings shot 50 percent (38-for-76) against the Hornets. This was actually the third time this season the Kings have shot 50 percent or better in a game -- but the first game they have won when doing so.

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