Sacramento, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Marcus Thornton stepped up in the absence of leading scorer and rebounder DeMacrus Cousins, firing a team-high 22 points to help the Sacramento Kings snap the Portland Trail Blazers’ five-game winning run with a 108-96 triumph Sunday at Sleep Train Arena.
Thornton hit 10 of 18 shots and scored 18 of his total output in the second half to carry the Kings to their ninth win in 27 games even without Cousins and Tyreke Evans, who were out due to team suspension and sore knee, respectively.
“It felt great. Everyone was into the game, cheering for one another. That’s what we need,” Thornton said.
Travis Outlaw and John Salmons scored 15 points apiece, Isaiah Thomas had 11 and Jason Thompson and James Johnson tallied 10 points each as the Kings issued a season-high 31 assists to key the victory.
“The number one thing was 31 assists. That tells the story right there. Obviously making shots, but 31 assists for this group after everything we’ve been through over the last couple of days, for them to pull together,” Kings coach Keith Smart said.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Nicolas Batum added 17 points and eight assists for the Blazers, who dropped to 13-13.
Damian Lillard had 15 points and seven assists while center J.J. Hickson tallied 14 points and 11 boards for his eighth straight double-double in the loss.
With his team leading by just 77-71 in the dying seconds of the third period, Aaron Brooks buried a 27-foot three-pointer to give the Kings a nine-point cushion and the momentum in the fourth quarter.
Then, the Kings started the fourth with a 7-0 blast to pad their lead to 87-71. Later, Hayes made a layup to make it 99-81, with five minutes left in the game.
Cousins was earlier suspended for conduct detrimental to the team after a verbal altercation with Smart. He leads the team in scoring (16.6 per game) and rebounding (9.5).
Evans is averaging 15.1 points and 3.3 assists per contest.