Thomas leads Kings past Celtics 118-96
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — With the rest of the Kings' backcourt banged up, Isaiah Thomas is making the most of his opportunity to start.
Thomas scored 27 points in his second start in the past six weeks and made one of Sacramento's two four-point plays in the second half as the Kings handed the Boston Celtics their third straight lopsided loss on a California road swing, 118-96 on Sunday night.
"That guy has an infectious personality," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "He has that magnetism that brings players and people around to him. He brought that energy to start the game off right with him in the starting lineup. All our guards do a great job, but what he's been able to do is kind of give us a little injection of the steam that we need. He's done that, plus he's making his shots."
Thomas got the chance to start in part because Aaron Brooks (left ankle) and Tyreke Evans (left knee) are sidelined. The Kings also lost Marcus Thornton to a sprained left ankle during the game but it didn't hurt them as they had their second-highest scoring game of the season and had at least 28 assists for the fourth straight game.
DeMarcus Cousins, in his second game back from a team suspension, made Boston pay for its double teams by posting 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double.
John Salmons added 23 points off the bench and Jason Thompson scored 20 as Sacramento won its fourth straight home game.
"We played a great game as a team," Thomas said. "We were very unselfish. That usually happens when you're unselfish and you're playing aggressive — things start to open up."
The Celtics are going in the other direction after handily beating Brooklyn on Christmas Day. They followed that win with a trip to California to face the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State and Sacramento and got outscored by 69 points in losing all three to fall two games under .500.
"The reason why guys came back is because of what we built here and that we are known to defend," Boston forward Kevin Garnett said. "For some reason, we've gotten away from that. So we're going to have to go back to our origins to figure it out."
The Kings were in control for most of this game and then pulled away with their long-range shooting in the fourth quarter. James Johnson and Jimmer Fredette made 3-pointers early in the fourth and then Salmons' 3-pointer midway through the quarter off a pass from Cousins gave the Kings a 100-84 lead.
Cousins found Thomas for a long-range shot on Sacramento's next trip while being fouled by Paul Pierce. Thomas added the free throw for the four-point play that made it 104-86 with 5 minutes to play.
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