SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—Kings coach Reggie Theus let John Salmons know how unimpressed he was with his performance in the first half. After the break, the sub-turned-starter took over the game.
Playing without injured starters Ron Artest and Brad Miller, the Kings still coasted to a victory. Starting in place of Artest, Salmons had six rebounds, four assists and two steals. He did not score, and had just one assist and one steal in 15 first-half minutes.
“He had no rebounds at halftime and I called him out on it, he came back and got six in the second half,” Theus said. “When you give John room to play he is effective. He just has to have room to play and that’s what we try to do whenever he’s in the game.”
After not attempting a shot in the first half, Salmons became aggressive in the third quarter, converting on several drives to the basket and scoring 10 points for the Kings, who led 78-62 heading into the fourth.
To honor Miller, who had elbow surgery earlier in the day and was at the game, many of the Kings wore headbands.
“Kevin (Martin) was the first to say he would wear it and everyone else jumped on after that,” said Salmons, who always wears one. “I was thinking if you miss a couple of shots don’t blame the headband on me.”
Martin, the Kings’ leading scorer, strained his right knee in the third quarter and didn’t play in the fourth. He finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
“Everyone shared the ball and played together,” Salmons said. “Spencer helped make things easy for us, just like Brad (Miller) does.”
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 13 rebounds for Portland, who only led in the game’s opening minutes. Travis Outlaw scored 18 points, Channing Frye had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Brandon Roy had 12 points.
“We didn’t have a lot of movement at all, especially early when I thought we needed to get ourselves in the game,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “But we were passing, standing and not making shots.”
Slumping Portland lost for the sixth time in seven games. The Blazers (39-40), who fell below the .500 mark for only the second time since Dec. 14, have not had a winning season in five years.
“I want to have a winning record, if we get above .500 it’s more for your own pride,” Roy said.
Playing long stretches of zone defense, the Kings had one of their most successful defensive efforts in the second half of a season in which they regularly allowed 100 or more points. Despite scoring a season-high point total Tuesday at Golden State, the Kings still lost 140-132.
“It was another good win for us. We’ve played well at home most of the year and we’ve just got to continue so we can end the season strong,” Theus said. “We had seven guys in double figures tonight and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Artest sat on the Kings bench in street clothes, inactive for the third time in four games with a sprained thumb.
The Kings led by as many as 20 points in the fist half but took a 51-41 lead into the break.
Roy, Portland’s leading scorer, did not attempt a shot in the first half. He made a short jumper in the opening minute of the third quarter for his first two points. … Udrih was the only Kings starter who didn’t wear a headband. “I never wear it before so I’m not going to do that,” he said afterward in the locker room. “Look, I have three headbands in my locker because they kept throwing them at me, saying ‘come on wear one, wear one.”’ … Martell Webster remained in Portland, missing his fourth straight game due to an irregular heartbeat. … The Kings face New Orleans on Saturday at home, part of a closing stretch that has them playing four games in five nights. … The Blazers missed 14 of 16 3-point attempts.