Thomas steps up, lifts Kings past Wizards


WASHINGTON, D.C. — After the Kings lost their fourth consecutive game Saturday at Denver, Isaiah Thomas said he was to blame for the defeat.

The excessive turnovers and lack of flow on offense were his fault, Thomas said.

Well, Thomas now can take a lot of credit for ending the Kings’ skid. His nine-foot floater in the lane with 1.9 seconds to play gave the Kings a 96-94 win over the Washington Wizards on Monday night at Verizon Center.

Former University of Washington guard Thomas finished with team highs of 22 points and seven assists. The assist total matched his season high.

And the most important number might be one —Thomas’ turnover total.

Thomas caught the inbound pass with 7.9 seconds and saw Garrett Temple was guarding him. Temple had barely played, checking in for the first time with 24.5 seconds to play.

“I had seen a guy guarding me that wasn’t in the whole game, so I felt I had an opportunity to take him,” Thomas said. “And he kind of forced me to my strong (left) hand.”

The Kings had only 11 turnovers Monday after committing 20 Saturday. Coach Keith Smart said Thomas helped organize the Kings and keep them out of problematic situations.

During a morning film session, Smart said he cautioned Thomas against overdribbling, too.

“If our team is going to turn the ball over, we’re not in an offense. We’re not into something that can give us the proper spacing,” Smart said.

“I thought he did a good job with that. I’m so happy for him to be the guy to come back and hit a game winner.”

Thomas scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.

“I was a little more aggressive from the jump,” he said. “Pushing it a little more and trying to get guys going early.”

And at the end, Thomas sealed the deal at Temple’s expense. Smart told Thomas not to settle for a jumper, even though Thomas said he was tempted to shoot one.

“I couldn’t find anyone that could guard him,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “That was disappointing, especially as the game went on. He got anywhere he wanted to.”

Thomas’ performance helped the Kings withstand a surprisingly big game from Wizards center Emeka Okafor, who had game highs of 23 points and 15 rebounds.

Smart sat center DeMarcus Cousins (12 points, four rebounds) for the entire fourth quarter and used rookie Thomas Robinson and Chuck Hayes to close the game defensively.

Cousins has had single digits in rebounds the last three games and hasn’t been the dominant player he’d been in posting six consecutive double doubles before this stretch.

Cousins said his play lately isn’t about what opponents are doing defensively.

“I wouldn’t even blame it on the other teams,” Cousins said. “It’s not that. That’s not the case.”

Is it his fault?

“Not me, either,” Cousins said.

Cousins would not say who was to blame.

“I answered it,” Cousins said. “That’s how it is.”

Smart said going to Robinson late was about winning the primary goal.

“I thought Thomas provided us with what we needed,” Smart said. “It doesn’t matter to me who is on the floor. The bottom line is we win the game.

“Thomas gets some credit, Isaiah gets some credit, but the bottom line is Sacramento got all the credit because we won the game.”