Thomas Helps Kings Hold Off Mavericks
Sacramento 85, Dallas 80
SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 12 (Ticker) -- Kenny Thomas shot the surging Sacramento Kings right into the postseason picture.
Thomas made a pair of jumpers and two clinching free throws in the final minute as the Kings climbed into eighth place in the Western Conference with their season-high fourth straight win, an emotional 85-80 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
"(Getting above .500) hasn't really sunk in yet," Miller said. "We've got to enjoy the fact we kind of climbed one little step, but we've still got some work we're trying to get done before the playoffs."
The Kings saw their lead clipped to 79-77 with 1:18 left after a 3-pointer by Jason Terry, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. Then Thomas took a shot from the top of the circle that hit the rim several times before dropping in.
"It was one of those games that we had to win," Thomas said. "It means a lot to me because Mike (Bibby) had a lot of confidence in me in passing to me for those two shots. I was just trying to concentrate on knocking them down. I didn't take that many shots before that."
Terry drove for a three-point play that made it a one-point game with 49 seconds to play. On the next possession, Thomas set a pick for Mike Bibby, who found him for a 16-footer from the right wing for an 83-80 lead with 29 seconds to play.
Marquis Daniels missed an open 3-pointer, but Dallas got another chance when Bonzi Wells missed a pair of free throws. This time, Terry saw his potential tying shot from behind the arc rattle in and out.
"We just didn't knock down our shots tonight," Terry said. "I don't know if it was their defense or our lack of offense, but we had a lot of good looks."
Thomas sealed the win with two foul shots with eight seconds remaining.
"Kenny came up huge in the end," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "He was the guy they were leaving open and he hit that one shot with a little bit of luck, then the second one was dead center and he hit the free throws."
One of the top free-throw shooting teams in the league, Sacramento made just 12-of-20 foul shots.
"I was more proud that he made two free throws at the end of the game," Miller quipped.
Kevin Martin scored 14 points, Bibby added 12 and Thomas 10 for the Kings, who used just seven players for the third straight game. All seven scored at least eight points.
All-Star Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and 13 rebounds and Daniels scored 19 points for the Mavericks (49-14), which is tied with San Antonio atop the Southwest Division. Nowitzki did not have a basket in the last six minutes.
In addition to the missed 3-pointers, Dallas had some other misfortune. Already hit hard by injuries, the Mavericks lost Josh Howard to an aggravation of his hamstring injury.
"Obviously it's tough to win on the road if you shoot (36 percent)," said Nowitzki, who made just 10-of-25 shots. "I think the effort was there with all the guys out and even Josh going out in the middle of the game. We battled and were right there. Jason's look was basically in. But that's the kind of night it was."
In the third quarter, Avery Johnson received the first ejection of his coaching career when he stormed onto the court to argue a call.
"I wasn't trying to rile up the team, just had a difference of opinion," Johnson said. "We thought we had a legitimate beef at the way (Sacramento) was playing Dirk, but I guess we were wrong. We'll just move on.
"You've got to give the Kings a lot of credit. They really came out and played hard."
The Kings used a strong second quarter to open a 52-43 halftime lead. The Mavericks opened the third quarter with a 9-1 spurt to get back in it.
Terry's 3-pointer made it 65-65 with 10:52 remaining before Shareef Abdur-Rahim made a jumper and Artest added a pair of hoops for a 71-65 bulge with 7:39 to play.