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Thomas' bucket leads Kings over Hornets

Mar 8, 2012 - 7:21 AM Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) - John Salmons' layup in the closing seconds lifted the Sacramento Kings over the New Orleans Hornets, 99-98, at Power Balance Pavilion.

Salmons finished with 12 points, while Marcus Thornton had a team-high 25 and Tyreke Evans contributed 13 for the Kings, who kicked off a franchise record nine-game homestand by snapping a four-game losing streak.

"We want to win them all if we can. It was a great way to start it," Kings guard Jimmer Fredette said of the homestand. "Now we have to focus on the next one."

Jarrett Jack scored 25 points, Trevor Ariza netted 20 and Chris Kaman had 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for New Orleans, which dropped its third straight game.

"We played well enough to lose," said Jack. "All those great things that you can point to, we still came up on the short end of things."

The Kings held a 58-54 advantage at the break after a back-and-forth first half that saw six lead changes, seven ties and neither team hold a lead larger than five points.

A brief 5-2 spurt by Sacramento resulted in the game's largest lead, 63-56, on Thornton's shot from beyond the arc, but New Orleans battled back with 11 straight points to run out to a 67-63 advantage on Marco Belinelli's three- point play.

After Sacramento responded with a 7-2 swing to retake the lead, the Hornets recorded the game's next six points to go ahead, 75-70.

Back-to-back layups by Thornton and Fredette sparked an 8-2 run that gave the Kings a 78-77 lead with 34.7 seconds left in the third before Greivis Vasquez drilled New Orleans' first trey of the game for an 80-78 Hornets lead after three.

Kaman's hook shot and Xavier Henry's jumper stretched the Hornets' advantage to six early in the fourth before a 7-0 spurt by the Kings put them ahead, 85-84, on Fredette's trey with 9:32 left in the game.

The teams traded three-point leads over the next eight minutes until Thornton's three-pointer knotted the game at 95 with 1:29 remaining.

Ariza responded with a trey at the other end and Evans attempted to answer with another three on the Kings' ensuing touch, but it was no good.

Thornton was there, however, to grab the rebound and his putback made it a 98-97 game in favor of the Hornets.

After Sacramento turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation with 19.2 seconds left, Thornton's driving layup rimmed out and Kaman grabbed the board.

Coming out of a timeout, the Kings opted to use their last foul on the in- bounds pass and on New Orleans' next in-bounds attempt, Isaiah Thomas stole the back-court pass and fed the ball to Salmons, who drove to the lane and finished with the game-deciding layup with 6.8 seconds left in the game.

Ariza's fadeaway jumper at the buzzer was short, bouncing off the front of the rim to seal the victory for Sacramento.

"I don't know how we did it but we found a way," Kings head coach Keith Smart said.

A Thomas three-pointer gave the Kings a 5-2 lead less than two minutes into the first quarter and they held that advantage over the rest of the opening frame.

The Hornets never let the game get away from them, though, as they stayed within two possessions for the entire quarter en route to a 29-27 deficit entering the second.

New Orleans gained its first lead with a 7-1 run to start the second quarter and Sacramento would trail over the next six-plus minutes until Salmons' trey put the Kings on top, 47-46, with 3:04 left in the half.

The remaining three minutes saw four lead changes and two ties until Sacramento recorded the frame's final four points to hold a 58-54 lead at the break.

Game Notes

Sacramento, which improved to 9-6 at home this season, will also face Dallas, Atlanta, Golden State, Detroit, Boston, Minnesota, Memphis and Utah on its long residency...New Orleans fell to 5-14 on the road...Thomas finished with 12 points and Fredette had 11 for the Kings...The Hornets turned the ball over 23 times, resulting in 27 Sacramento points.