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Shuffled Kings lineup manhandles Nets

The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO -- Marcus Thornton, Greivis Vasquez and the rest of the Sacramento Kings could grow to love the team's new look.

Thornton, coming off the bench for the first time this season, poured in a game-high 24 points on 10-for-19 shooting, and the Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with a 107-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday at Sleep Train Arena.

Vasquez, in his usual role as the starting point guard, added 17 points and 12 assists.

All in all, it was just what rookie Kings coach Michael Malone was longing to see when he shook up his lineup after his team went winless and was outscored by an average of 9.8 points per game since a victory over the Denver Nuggets on opening night. Rookie Ben McLemore replaced Thornton as the starting shooting guard, and forward Jason Thompson started in place of Patrick Patterson.

"If I could've written a script for how tonight was going to go, this would've been it," Malone said. "There's a lot of positives to draw from."

Chief among them was Thornton's effort. A starter in Sacramento's first six games, Thornton averaged 10.4 points per contest, converted just 33.3 percent of his shots from the field and made only eight 3-pointers. However, he drilled his first two 3-pointers after coming off the bench to spark the Kings to a 52-40 halftime advantage Wednesday, and he wound up canning five of nine shots from long distance.

"I often catch myself out there thinking too much and not just going out there and playing," Thornton said. "Tonight, I kept pounding in my head to just go out there and play relaxed. Shots started falling and things happened."

Vasquez also helped dominate the game from the point. He combined often with Patterson and Thompson on a series of pick-and-roll conversions, and he made seven of 13 3-pointers in his best effort of the season.

"We've got to pick-and-roll more," he said. "To find guys, we've got to move the defense from side to side and then pick-and-roll with them. I'm 6-foot-6 and can see the floor and make those passes. We did that and got into a really good rhythm."

The Kings, who never trailed, held Brooklyn to 37.8 percent shooting in their best defensive effort of the season. Sacramento also established season highs in points, rebounds (38) and assists (26) while turning over the ball a season-low seven times.

"I loved the defense," Malone said. "This was the closest that we've come to playing a full 48 minutes. ... For us to win, it has to start on the defensive end of the floor. When we defend, rebound, and share the ball, we're a decent basketball team."

Guard Isaiah Thomas added 19 points, six rebounds and six assists for Sacramento, his seventh consecutive double-figure scoring game to start the season. Center DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes.

Center Brook Lopez had 16 points and nine rebounds for Brooklyn (2-5). Guards Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston each added 13, and forward Paul Pierce had 12 points and nine rebounds.

Brooklyn forward Kevin Garnett was held to six points. He has been held under double digits in all seven of Brooklyn's games since being acquired from the Boston Celtics.

"Things will pass and get better," Garnett said. "It's a difficult transition period right now. We have to clean things up."

NOTES: Sacramento SG Ben McLemore scored two points in his first NBA start. "He'll settle down and do fine in the next game," coach Michael Malone said. ... Brooklyn F Kevin Garnett played his 1,330rd career game, moving past Moses Malone into 10th on the NBA's all-time list. ... Nets F Andrei Kirilenko missed the game due to back spasms. ... Sacramento C DeMarcus Cousins was coming off back-to-back 30-point nights, the first Kings player to do so since G Kevin Martin on Feb. 2 and 4, 2009. ... The game marked the start of a three-game West Coast swing for the Nets and was the second of a five-game homestand for the Kings. ... Malone matched up against a rookie coach -- Brooklyn's Jason Kidd -- for the third time in its first seven games. ... Cousins, who led the NBA with 17 technical fouls last season, picked up his second of the new campaign.
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