Kings Open Road Trip With Win Over Cavs
Sacramento 97, Cleveland 90
CLEVELAND, March 1 (Ticker) -- Kenny Thomas led a balanced attack for the Sacramento Kings that kept the Cleveland Cavaliers stumbling.
Thomas scored 22 points to lead seven players in double figures as the Kings opened an important road trip with a 97-90 victory over the Cavaliers, who lost their fifth straight game.
"We responded. We haven't been doing that," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. It's the type of win we needed at the start of this trip."
Thomas scored 10 points in the third quarter, when the Kings turned a four-point deficit into a 78-73 lead entering the final period.
"Nobody thought that we were going to win this game," Thomas said. "We've really been communicating better and trying to keep everything in perspective because we need to keep on playing hard every night."
A runner by recently acquired Ronald Murray gave the Cavaliers an 82-80 lead with 8:37 remaining. But 7-footer Brad Miller stepped out and drilled a 3-pointer to give the Kings the lead for good and spark an 8-2 surge.
"We're trying to get into the playoffs and every game counts," Miller said. "We kept the pressure on defensively and made just enough shots."
Miller scored 15 points and Ron Artest, Kevin Martin, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and rookie Francisco Garcia added 11 apiece for the Kings, who had every player that took the court reach double figures.
"We played seven and all seven had double figures," Adelman said. "We've been playing better and better offensively. We're getting more used to each other and our young guys are playing better."
Sacramento entered the contest 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.
Murray's layup with 4:15 left pulled the Cavaliers within 90-88. But they went scoreless for nearly four minutes after that hoop until Murray made a meaningless layup with 30 seconds to go.
Murray, LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 19 points apiece for Cleveland, which fell to 1-5 since the All-Star break. The Cavs went 1-6 after the break last season en route to a collapse that saw them miss the playoffs for the seventh straight year.
"We have to try to increase our effort level," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "I have to increase my effort level. We just have to go get it done. I don't feel like it's slipping away.
Guarded by Ron Artest, James managed just three points and missed all seven of his shots from the floor in the second half.
"I have always said if they are going to put two (defenders) on me or three on me, I am going to give the ball up," James said. "I did that tonight and guys made shots and missed shots. It happens."
"It's not what we did to LeBron, it's what we did to their team," Artest said. "We played good team ball. LeBron is just one person, so nobody wins by himself."
The Cavaliers got off to a good start, scoring 16 straight points at one juncture and using a 25-2 run to end the first quarter for a 29-18 lead.
Ilgauskas' free throw with 10:19 left in the half gave the Cavs their biggest lead at 34-20.
Garcia made the first of his three 3-pointers in the quarter to trigger a 19-7 surge as the Kings closed to 41-39. The first-round pick scored 11 points in the burst.
Garcia's night ended prematurely as he sprained his left ankle early in the fourth quarter and did not return.