The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Thornton scores 20, Kings beat Blazers 95-92 for second win over Portland in 14 games
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - John Salmons can't remember a worse shooting slump.
He's hoping the 19 points he scored to help the Sacramento Kings to a rare win over Portland on Thursday night will help him forget it.
Marcus Thornton scored 20 points the Kings, who snapped a five-game losing streak by beating Portland 95-92 Thursday night.
The Blazers had beaten the Kings in 12 of the previous 13 games, but Sacramento ran off five straight points late in the game and held off Portland, which missed two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds, including a nice look from Jamal Crawford just prior to the buzzer soundings.
Salmons entered the game shooting 35 per cent from the field and 21 per cent on 3-pointers. After making three 3-pointers and eight of 14 shots overall, Salmons was asked if he had ever shot this poorly for such a prolonged stretch.
"Not this bad. Not this bad," said Salmons, who also had eight rebounds. "It's human nature to be frustrated. But you've got to stay with it and keep going. But it hasn't been easy."
Kings coach Keith Smart understood what this game meant to Salmons, a quiet veteran who normally speaks much louder on the court than he does in the locker room.
"He's too proud of a pro to have a season-long bad game," Smart said. "I always knew that from knowing him around the league as a pro, that somewhere down the line his game is going to come back to him. The guy is really working. I'm happy that he played well, and so is the team."
LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost four straight on the road, where they are 3-9 this season. Jamal Crawford scored 17 points and Raymond Felton 15 points and 10 assists. Portland made just 8-of-16 free throws.
Tyreke Evans scored 18 points, Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings.
Salmons broke an 88-88 tie with a jumper and Thompson put back a shot in traffic, giving the Kings a 92-88 lead with 1:53 left. A jumper by Evans gave Sacramento a 95-90 cushion with 15.2 seconds remaining.
"We've seen this team three times so far, that's how crazy this season has been," Thompson said. "We prepared for them, the extra practice this week helped. We definitely needed this win. It's nice to smile after a game and laugh."
Kings centre DeMarcus Cousins, who averaged nearly 21 points and 12 rebounds in the previous games, was in foul trouble early. He played 14 minutes, and didn't leave the bench in the fourth quarter, finishing with eight points and six rebounds.
After squandering a six-point lead and allowing the Blazers to go ahead by a basket, Thornton hit a 3-pointer and next time down court made a fastbreak layup to put the Kings in front 84-81 with five minutes left.
"We really had control of this game and had a flow going," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "But in the second half it's pretty much what it has been for us — turnovers, a lot of one-on-one play, and lack of ball movement. We just self-destruct on the road."
Salmons, who entered the game in a season-long slump and was shooting 35 per cent, opening the fourth quarter with his third 3-pointer of the game. Isaiah Thomas quickly followed with a basket to give Sacramento a 76-69 advantage.
Evans and Thompson both scored seven points in the third quarter. The Kings overcame nine-point halftime deficit, outscoring Portland 24-13 to take a 71-69 lead into the fourth.
Trailing since early in the first quarter, the Kings pulled even when Evans got loose on a fastbreak and his emphatic dunk tied the game at 63 with 3:39 left in the third period. Evans later followed with a three-point play to give Sacramento a 68-65 lead.
After shooting over 60 per cent in the opening half, the Blazers went cold to start the third quarter. They had just two points in the first five minutes before Matthews connected on a 3-pointer for a 61-55 lead.
The Kings had no answer for Aldridge in the opening half. The smooth-shooting forward continually got open for mid-range jumpers and made them, scoring 19 points to help Portland take a 56-47 lead into the half.
The Blazers ran off 11 straight points early in the second quarter to build a 13-point lead. The Blazers received second-quarter points from an unlikely source - Kurt Thomas. The 39-year-old veteran forward scored eight points in the spurt.
NOTES: Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette didn't play for the first time in 22 games. . Aldridge made his first six shots and had 12 points in the opening quarter when the Blazers led 30_27. . Nicolas Batum, a key person off the bench for Portland, missed his second straight game with a bone bruise in his left knee. . Salmons made four of five shots and had 10 first-quarter points.
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