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Sacramento's Salmons scorches Magic, leads Kings to win

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO -- John Salmons is shooting too good to get tired now.

A night after playing 50 minutes and guarding LeBron James in a double-overtime loss in Miami, Salmons rebounded to score 21 points in 22 minutes to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 125-101 victory over the Orlando Magic Wednesday.

Salmons, 33, might be Sacramento's oldest player, but his legs looked younger than ever when he hit 7 of 9 shots -- including 4 of 5 3-pointers -- to help the Kings snap a six-game losing streak.

"In this league, there are no excuses. Being professional means coming to play every night," he said. "Doesn't matter how many you play in a row. It's just basketball."

Salmons has made 15 of his 20 3-point shots during the first four games of this road trip, one of the hottest long-distance shooting stretches of his career. The trip ends Friday night in San Antonio.

"My shot is feeling good right now. We're moving the ball, and getting open looks at the basket," he said. "Everyone is being unselfish, and when that happens, we can be pretty good."

The Kings (20-30) breezed almost from start to finish through the hapless Magic (16-42), who offered little defensive resistance.

Kings reserve Marcus Thornton, who had 36 points and made eight 3-pointers in Miami, had 20 points Wednesday in the victory over Orlando. He also had a game-high eight rebounds.

Tyreke Evans had 17 points and seven assists. Center DeMarcus Cousins had 13 points and six rebounds.

The Magic were led by newly-acquired reserve Tobias Harris, who had 23 points and six rebounds. Arron Afflalo had 15 points and seven rebounds. Beno Udrih, who also arrived last week in the trade with Milwaukee, had 14 points and eight assists.

After beating the 76ers in Philadelphia on Tuesday, the Magic were trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since mid-December. They never challenged after the first few minutes, allowing the Kings to score 36, 31, and 31 points respectively in the first three quarters.

"We didn't play hard. They played harder," Udrih said. "They wanted it more. We just didn't bring the energy from the day before. They did."

The Kings led by 30 points when the fourth quarter began. They led 67-44 at halftime, showing no signs of weariness from the disappointing night in Miami.

The Kings shot 54.8 percent (46 of 84) from the field with the Magic offering only minimal defensive pressure.

"He (Salmons) was fresh tonight. All of these guys were very, very fresh," said Sacramento coach Keith Smart. "I just thought we did a good job coming off the game in Miami. We had the right energy. That's the NBA."

The Kings set the tone quickly when they made 28 of 45 shots (62.2 percent) and six of 12 from 3-point range in the first half. By intermission, they had five players in double figures.

Magic point guard E'Twaun Moore, starting in place of Jameer Nelson, hit three 3-pointers in the first 3:11, giving the Magic an early 13-7 lead. He didn't score again in the first half, ending the Magic highlights.

NOTES: With the Kings in town, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn couldn't help but mention Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star. Johnson has been in the news a lot lately, lobbying hard to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle. Vaughn came into the league just before Johnson retired. They played against each other four times. Both were point guards. "He was explosive," Vaughn said. "Great player. I'm glad to see he's doing well outside of basketball. It's a great thing to see when that happens." ... Smart said Wednesday that Cole Aldrich finally will join the team later this week in San Antonio, the final stop of this five-game trip. Aldrich was obtained in a trade with Houston last week, but has yet to see his new teammates. ... Magic veteran forward Al Harrington made his season debut Tuesday in Philadelphia and played 12 minutes in his first home game Wednesday night. Harrington had been recovering from right knee surgery. ... Nelson missed his fourth consecutive game Wednesday. He still is recovering from a left knee bruise. ... When Kings forward Marcus Thornton scored 36 points in the double-overtime loss in Miami Tuesday, it was the most points scored by a reserve in the NBA this season.
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