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Kings fans use home game as pep rally

The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO -- The fans came to Sleep Train Arena to show their support for the Sacramento Kings, and the team responded with a 120-109 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

An enthusiastic crowd of 16,193 cheered on the Kings in an attempt to show the NBA the team has strong backing. The Maloof ownership has announced its plans to sell the Kings to an ownership group that plans to move the team to Seattle.

Sacramento received double-figure scoring from all five starters and one reserve. Isaiah Thomas had a game-high 25 points, backup guard Marcus Thornton added 24, and Jason Thompson scored 21.

Thomas is perhaps the most torn of all the Kings. He attended the University of Washington in Seattle and grew up in nearby Tacoma.

"I've just got to continue to play and try and make this team better," he said following a 10-for-16 shooting performance. "Anything I say is going to hurt both sides, so I'm just going to keep playing."

Thomas said he fed off the crowd's energy.

"I fed off it and I think the whole team fed off of it," he said. "How could we not? When the whole building is bringing the energy, it's going to always be good for us."

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins scored 13 points, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and handed out a team-high six assists to counter his game-high six turnovers.

Cousins pointed to the crowd's fever as a major positive.

"Their energy was crazy ... nonstop," he said. "They were into the game the whole game so they really helped us out. (We heard) it was going to be sold out and it was pretty much sold out. The fans were engaged the whole game."

Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin, as a former member of the Kings, knows the city and its fans.

"The fans here are super," Corbin said. "It's always been a great place to play. They don't want to lose the team."

Kings coach Keith Smart said he was pleased with his team's pace.

"I used a drill in practice the last couple of days called '11 seconds' where we try to get the ball into an offense in 11 seconds and also try to get to a fast-break activity in that time," Smart said. "It all came together with the crowd and the pace we wanted to play at."

Backup guard Alex Burks led the Jazz with a career-high 24 points. Jefferson scored 16 points but grabbed just three rebounds, well off his season average of 9.6 boards.

The Kings (18-34) ended a four-game losing streak while winning for just the second time in 10 games. The Jazz (28-24) lost their second game in a row.

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is attempting to put forth a strong fourth-quarter run with a different ownership group that would make a competitive offer and also agree to build a new downtown arena.

Johnson has yet to announce the parties involved, but a grass-roots campaign running under the names of "Here We Stay" and "Here We Buy" have been established by fan groups.

The groups showed up in force and during nearly every break in action Saturday, clapped rhythmically and chanted "Sacramento" and "Let Us Match."

Sacramento led much of the contest and flirted with breaking the game open midway through the second quarter, but Utah fought back to erase a 13-point deficit. The Jazz took a 50-49 lead before the Kings used a 13-4 run to end the half with a 62-54 lead.

The Kings finally took control in the third quarter. Utah big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap got into foul trouble and took themselves out of the game.

Sacramento received double-figure scoring from all five starters and one reserve. Isaiah Thomas had a game-high 25 points, backup guard Marcus Thornton added 24, and Jason Thompson scored 21.

Backup guard Alex Burks led the Jazz with a career-high 24 points. Jefferson scored 16 points but grabbed just three rebounds, well off his season average of 9.6 boards.

The Kings (18-34) ended a four-game losing streak while winning for just the second time in 10 games. The Jazz (28-24) lost their second game in a row.

NOTES: Saturday night's game started a home back-to-back for the Kings. It's the only time this season they'll play at Sleep Train Arena on consecutive days. They played one back-to-back home set last season, April 2 vs. Minnesota and April 3 vs. Phoenix. ... Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas was selected to participate in the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston. ... The Jazz entered the contest having won seven of the past 11 meetings between the two teams. ... Utah coach Tyrone Corbin played with the Kings during the 1995-96 season before being traded to the Miami Heat. ... View from the outside: Corbin talked about Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who had been ejected from two of the three previous games between the teams. "He's an emotional player who sometimes overreacts or is too demonstrative for the referees," Corbin said. "He's a young guy, and he'll learn how to use the emotions. But most of the best players in the league are emotional, passionate players."
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