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12/24/2012 12:36 AM EST
Thornton helps Kings snap Blazers' win streak at 5
SACRAMENTO 108, PORTLAND 96

By JEFF WEIDEL
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- It appears the Sacramento Kings can
play well without their controversial leading scorer and
rebounder, DeMarcus Cousins.



With Cousins not in the arena due for disciplinary reasons, the
Kings were an effective, unselfish team.



Now the question is whether they can keep it up.



Marcus Thornton scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half to
help the slumping Kings snap Portland's five-game winning streak
with a 108-96 victory over the Trail Blazers on Sunday night.



Cousins, who is the starting center, was suspended indefinitely
Saturday for unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to
the team. The third-year player and Kings head coach Keith Smart
had a confrontation during halftime of Friday's 97-85 loss to
the Los Angeles Clippers. Smart told Cousins to stay in the
locker room and not join the team for the second half.



Sacramento had six players in double figures and recorded a
season-high 31 assists against Portland. The Kings pulled away
in the second half, shooting nearly 71 percent after the break.
Using its eighth different starting lineup this season,
Sacramento had a season-best 45 field goals.



"We were missing DeMarcus, so we had a different lineup out
there and it worked out tonight," said James Johnson, who made a
rare start at power forward while Jason Thompson moved to
center. "We were a small team tonight so we ran fast and played
very unselfish."



Both Thornton and Salmons helped spark the second-half surge
after both were relative non-factors in the opening half. The
pair combined for 31 second-half points, helping the Kings pull
away.



Thornton made 8 of 11 shots in the second half and finished with
four rebounds and four assists. Salmons had 13 of his 15 points
in the second half and also added seven rebounds and seven
assists.



"John is a very unselfish player and can get his own shots,"
Thornton said. "He got going in the second half. Me and the
first half didn't do so well. But I came on at the right time
and got hot in the second half."



Already ahead by nine points, the Kings opened the fourth
quarter with a 7-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Thornton, to
build their lead to 87-71. The Blazers trailed by at least 12
the rest of the way.



"I just think it was one of those games where the other team
played better than us," Portland rookie guard Damian Lillard
said. "There probably were some defensive mistakes we made that
we shouldn't have and they took advantage of it."



Former Blazer Travis Outlaw had a season-high 15 points and
Isaiah Thomas added 11 for the Kings, who had lost six of their
previous seven games. Both Thompson and Johnson chipped in 10
points.



"It's definitely fun playing against some former teammates,"
Outlaw said. "I wish I could go out and do it against other
teams that well. Everybody got great looks at the rim tonight.
We played very unselfish."



LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers,
who have lost two of three meetings with the Kings this season.
Lillard had 15 points and seven assists, Nicolas Batum scored
17, and JJ Hickson had 14 points and 11 rebounds.



The Kings haven't said when Cousins will be allowed to rejoin
the team again. He was told not to attend the game. Cousins is
averaging team bests of 16.6 points and 9.5 rebounds.



"There are a few things we need to sit down and talk about,"
Smart said. "We have a couple of days before our next game and
our executive staff will discuss things and go from there."



Sacramento also played without starting guard Tyreke Evans, who
missed his fourth straight game with a sore left knee. Evans,
the Kings second-leading scorer, has missed 8 of the past 12
games.



"I thought they played very well without their key players,"
Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "In this league when players
are missing for whatever reasons the other players take that as
an opportunity to play well."



The scoring of Thornton kept the Kings on top in the third
quarter. The streak-shooting Thornton had 11 points and Brooks
hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, helping Sacramento carry an 80-71
lead into the fourth.



Outlaw keyed a second-quarter effort by Sacramento's reserves.
He had 13 points and Thomas had eight points and five assists,
helping the Kings outscore Portland 28-15 and take a 49-42 lead
into halftime.



Trailing by 10 early in the second quarter, the Kings responded
with a 15-0 run to take a 36-31 lead.



Notes: Portland made just 7 of 24 from 3-point range. ...
Blazers starting guard Wesley Matthews has a left hip injury and
didn't travel with the team. Seldom-used Victor Claver started
in the Blazers backcourt. ... Outlaw's 13 points in the second
quarter was two more than his season high entering the game. He
scored 11 points against the Blazers in a Kings victory in
Portland on Dec. 8. ... The two teams don't play again until
Dec. 26 in Portland.

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