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By Martin McNeal, The Sports Xchange December 29, 2012 2:30 AM
Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas described the game-winning perfectly.SACRAMENTO --
"We made something out of nothing," Thomas said after forward James Johnson hit his first 3-pointer of the season at the buzzer to give the Kings a 106-105 victory over the New York Knicks before a crowd of 16,407 Friday night at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings (10-19) trailed 105-103 with less than 30 seconds remaining, and the Knicks had the ball. However, one of the steadiest hands in the business -- New York point guard Jason Kidd -- tried a pass to center to Tyson Chandler that was intercepted by Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins. "It was a bad pass," Kidd said. "It happens. Tyson was open, and I just didn't give it to him." Still, the Kings had to get some offense going quickly. That was a problem in the second half. They scored a season-high-tying 71 in the first half but had just 32 in the second half at that point. Thomas missed a bank shot that Cousins kept alive, and the ball ended up in the hands of Sacramento's John Salmons in the corner in front of the Knicks bench. "After Jason closed out on me," Salmons said, "I thought I saw them leave Francisco (Garcia) open. But then I saw James open, so I threw him the ball. I must have had my passing shoes on." Johnson caught and shot with no hesitation, and he sent the crowd into celebration. Johnson was 0-for-11 from 3-point range this season prior to that shot. "We always give James stuff about his shooting," Salmons said. Not anymore. Johnson's game-winner gave the Kings an improbable victory after they blew the 27-point lead they held with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter. Johnson said he knew the 3-pointer would go in. "I've been practicing my shot, but you can never prepare for the last shot like that," he said. Kings coach Keith Smart said his team's offense got stagnant in the second half. "Going into halftime was the worst feeling I had because I know that you have to score the first four points in the third quarter when you have a lead that big," Smart said. "But these young men stayed together and pulled together to get the win." The Kings (10-19) improved to 9-7 at home, while the Knicks (21-9) fell to 9-7 on the road. Sacramento got 18 points from Marcus Thornton and 17 from Johnson. Cousins, who missed the previous two games as a result of disciplinary action by Smart, returned to contribute 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes. The Knicks rallied with a dominating third-quarter performance. New York shot 60 percent in the third, but more important, held the Kings to 35 percent shooting. The Knicks battered the Kings on the boards in the period and outscored Sacramento 31-16 to get within 87-81. The Kings gave the long-distance-bombing Knicks a taste of their strategy in the first half by making 10 of 15 3-pointers to lead 71-50 at the break. Jimmer Fredette came off the bench to spark the Kings with 15 first-half points on 6-for-7 shooting from the floor, including 3-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc. Fredette completed a tremendous sequence with a 3-pointer after 6-foot Sacramento point guard Aaron Brooks ran down 6-foot-8 Chris Copeland from behind and blocked his lay-in attempt. The second half didn't go as well for Fredette, who went scoreless after halftime. J.R. Smith led the Knicks with 28 points, and Copeland scored 23. Knicks center Tyson Chandler had 21 points and 18 rebounds, while Kidd added 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds. NOTES: In addition to Carmelo Anthony (hyperextended left knee), the Knicks were without Rasheed Wallace (sore left foot), Raymond Felton (fractured right fifth finger), Iman Shumpert (torn left ACL) and Amar'e Stoudamire (left knee debridement). ... The Knicks lead the NBA in 3-pointers made with an average of 11.3 per game. They shot 11-for-30 from long distance against Sacramento. ... Friday night's game was the first of two home games before Sacramento leaves for a four-game East Coast road trip. The Boston Celtics visit Sleep Train Arena on Sunday. ... The Knicks are off until a Tuesday home game against the Portland Trail Blazers. ... Smart started Thomas at the point instead of veteran Brooks. Thomas had 11 points and four assists, while Brooks finished with 10 points and three assists. ... Smart said before the game of Cousins, "We'll see how things go. The decision has been made regarding the status of Cousins. I know what we'll do but you know I don't talk about lineups until I have to."