SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — With his team trailing, Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas knew he had to be aggressive in the fourth quarter.
Thomas became a dominant player in the fourth, scoring 17 of his 23 points to help rally the Kings to a 117-111 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
John Salmons also was a huge factor in the fourth quarter for the Kings, getting 10 of his 23 points. He made four 3-pointers overall and converted all seven of his free throws in the fourth.
Thomas was perfect from the free-throw line as well, making all nine attempts in the fourth quarter and finishing 13 of 13 overall. He also had six assists and got the better of Houston point guard Jeremy Lin.
"I tried to let the game come to me early and it backfired a little bit," said Thomas, who sparked a Kings win on Saturday night by scoring 25 points in a win over Utah.
"I wanted to force the issue when I got back in the game in the fourth quarter."
The Kings were trailing by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, but Thomas led an offense that was difficult for the Rockets to match in the fourth quarter.
Houston was outscored 17-7 over a four-minute stretch when the Kings took control of the game.
The Kings converted 26 of 27 free throws in winning their second straight game.
"He (Thomas) got into the paint and got fouled a lot," said Lin, who fouled out in the fourth quarter. "He just did a good job of drawing fouls with pump fakes. He had a real good, efficient game."
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins had 20 points despite sitting out much of the second half with foul trouble. Jason Thompson scored 12 points, and Francisco Garcia came off the bench and had 11, including six points in the fourth quarter when the Kings outscored Houston 33-25.
Former Rockets player Chuck Hayes played most of the fourth quarter for Cousins. He was a critical factor in slowing down the Rockets and he also contributed eight points and a season-high 12 rebounds.
"Chuck was like a catalyst for our defense. When he's in there he's always giving us a lot of support at the defensive end," Thomas said.
James Harden had 30 points, six rebounds and four assists for Houston, which lost for the fourth time in five games. Patrick Patterson scored 18 points and Omer Asik had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Carlos Delfino added 15 points and Lin finished with 12 points and six assists.
"We didn't defend very well all night with anybody on the floor," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "They broke us down, got us in the paint, collapsed us, threw it up and made it."
The Rockets pulled within a basket, but Salmons, who had 10 fourth-quarter points, was quickly fouled and made both free throws for a 115-111 lead with nine seconds remaining.
A late jumper by Harden was off the mark and the Kings secured the rebound.
"Our group on the floor in the fourth quarter did all the right things defensively," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "They turned the game around and got us the win."
Fouled on a 3-point attempt by Harden, Salmons converted all three free throws to put the Kings up 111-107. Fouled with 25 seconds left, Thomas made a pair of free throws for a 113-107 lead.
Thomas made a 3 and later converted on a three-point play with 5:07 left, tying the game at 100. Thomas hit another 3-pointer a short time later, then drew the sixth foul on Lin. Thomas made both free throws to give Sacramento a three-point lead with 2:40 left.
Ahead by two points and with Harden resting on the bench, the Rockets opened the fourth quarter with eight straight points, the final two on a driving layup by Patrick Beverly that put them in front 94-84.
Houston continues to struggle on the road with a 10-17 record. The Rockets play road games against Golden State and the Clippers before the All-Star break.
"It's definitely a setback and I feel like we gave this one away," Chandler Parsons said. "On the road, coming down the stretch we have to take it. It's only going to get harder on this road trip with Golden State and in L.A.. Those games now are a lot bigger."
Sacramento was coming off a high-energy, emotional win Saturday against Utah. A boisterous crowd cheered the Kings from start to finish when chants of keeping the team in Sacramento were prevalent throughout.
The crowd of 15,526 wasn't nearly as vocal on Sunday, but they were on their feet several times. A organized fan-based effort is urging people to demonstrate support for the team and bolster attendance for the remainder of the season.
"When we're playing well this place is rocking," Hayes said. "I've been an opponent on the other team and it gave me goose bumps. This place can get really loud. Fans here have been unbelievable. They are passionate."
The Kings are 3-8 since the announcement Jan. 21 that the Maloofs had agreed to sell a controlling interest of the Kings to Chris Hansen's Seattle-based ownership group.
That group intends to move the Kings to Seattle if the sale is approved by the NBA. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is leading the effort to find new owners and keep the Kings from relocating.
Harden scored 10 points in a fast-paced third quarter when Houston shot 65 percent and outscored the Kings 33-27. Delfino converted on a corner 3 to end the quarter, giving the Rockets an 86-84 lead heading into the fourth.
After scoring six points early in the period and hitting the 20-point plateau, Cousins picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter and went to the bench. He re-entered the game early in the fourth and quickly got his fifth foul and left the game.
Cousins came out shooting from the perimeter early and found success. He scored 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter and helped the Kings take a 57-53 lead into halftime. Harden scored 15 points for the Rockets.
Notes: Evans picked up two fouls in the game's first six minutes while guarding Harden. ... Earlier in the day, Rockets reserve center Greg Smith was sent to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Smith is in his second season and averaged 5.5 points and four rebounds in 44 games. ... Houston, which is on pace to break the franchise record for most 3s made in a season (705), was 6 of 16 in the first half. The Rockets were 10 of 33 overall. ... These were the Kings only back-to-back home games of the season.