Thomas lifts Kings past WizardsBy The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Mon, Jan 28, 2013 11:40 PM EST
WASHINGTON -- With defenders unable to slow down the shortest player on the floor late in the game, logic dictated Isaiah Thomas would help the Sacramento Kings crown the Wizards once again. Recognizing a one-on-one matchup in his favor with the score tied, the 5-foot-9 guard did exactly that. Thomas scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and made the winning floater with 1.9 seconds remaining as the Kings snapped a four-game losing streak with a 96-94 win over the Washington Wizards on Monday night. Francisco Garcia had four 3-pointers and 17 points for the Kings, and Tyreke Evans scored 13. The Kings (17-29) trailed after each of the first three quarters in a game that had 11 lead changes and 16 ties. "Well, a much needed win for us," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "Obviously, when you get a win on the road it's like two or three wins, and those are hard to come by. No matter what the teams' records are, those are hard to come by in the NBA." Thomas' consistent penetration and his understanding of the defensive matchup made it a touch easier for the Kings. In the game's final 2:14, Thomas put the Kings in front three times. First, the second-year guard broke an 88-all tie with a free throw, and then made a running floater with 1:10 remaining after a John Wall layup. Evans made three of four free throws with another Wall basket in between, putting the Kings ahead 94- 92. Martell Webster scored 18 points for Washington (11-32), and his layup tied the score for the final time, setting up Thomas' heroics. Coming out of a timeout, Thomas received the inbounds pass on the right wing. Guarded by Garrett Temple, who played only 13 seconds and all inside the final minute, Thomas drove hard left. Just inside the free-throw line, his lofted shot over the 6-6 Temple found nothing but net. "I got open and I saw a guy that was guarding me that hadn't played the whole game," said Thomas, giggling a touch while rehashing the decisive play. "I felt like I had opportunity to take him and he kind of forced me to my strong hand. I just wanted to make a play. It happened to go in." Sacramento stole the inbounds pass, sealing its second tight win over Washington this season. The Kings won the first meeting 95-94 on Jan. 16. "We didn't have anybody that could guard him," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Thomas. "I couldn't find anyone that could guard him tonight. That was disappointing, especially as the game went on. He got anywhere he wanted to. Right, left, and the kid made the play at the end." Emeka Okafor had a season-high 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Wall scored 19 for the Wizards, who were one victory from their longest home-court winning streak since the 2006-07 season. During the losing streak, the Kings allowed 111.5 points per game and 49.4 percent shooting while committing 20.3 turnovers. Against the Wizards, Sacramento finished with 11 turnovers while holding Washington to 37 second-half points on 38.9 percent shooting from the field. "I don't think we turned the ball over as much and we got the stops when we needed them," Thomas said. "We dialed in on the defensive end and got stops, especially in the last couple of minutes." DeMarcus Cousins had 12 points and Marcus Thornton 11 for the Kings. Washington had won seven of 10 games, and its last four home victories were all by double digits. Okafor scored 14 points in the first quarter and combined with Wall made 13 of 16 shots from the field in the first half. The Wizards shot 56.1 percent in the first half for a 57-53 halftime lead. The second half proved more challenging offensively. "We did a bad job starting the third quarter moving the ball and getting into our offense," Wall said. John Salmons started and played the entire first quarter for the Kings but did not return for the remainder of the game due to a stomach virus, finishing without a point. NOTES: In his first professional game played in the Nation's Capital, Kings rookie forward and Washington, D.C. area native Thomas Robinson finished with nine points, three rebounds and two blocked shots. ... Okafor's 23 points were his most in any game since Nov. 5, 2010, when he scored 26 for New Orleans against Miami. After no double-doubles during the opening 24 games, Okafor now has 10 in the last 19 games. ... The Kings continue their season-high six-game road trip Wednesday at Boston. ... After three straight home games, the Wizards play their next three on the road, starting Wednesday at Philadelphia.
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