SAN ANTONIO Isaiah Thomas made sure coach Keith Smart knew he was ready to play Wednesday night.
During timeouts, Thomas walked past his coach and offered reminders that he was ready to help whenever needed.
"I said (after halftime), 'I'm still ready,' " Thomas said. " 'No matter if you didn't call my name, I'm going to be ready, so just look for me,' and he said he would. He believed in me and we got a great team win."
The Kings' 92-88 victory over the Indiana Pacers was sparked by bench players in the fourth quarter, when the Kings outscored the Pacers 26-8.
"If I can count on them to come in the games like that and make plays the way they did tonight, they'll stay right there (in the rotation)," Smart said. "Your bench really wins it for you in the NBA. Your stars close games out, but your bench keeps the game manageable until your stars can get in there and close a game out."
Smart is 3-5 since taking over as head coach, and each win was sparked by good play from the reserves, especially late in the game.
Thomas also ran the offense much of the fourth quarter in last week's win at Toronto. Jimmer Fredette came off the bench to direct the team in a comeback win over Milwaukee on Jan. 5, hours after coach Paul Westphal was fired.
After taking over for Westphal, Smart met with the reserves and looked to define their roles.
The result has been more confidence from the backups, and those who hadn't played much are now seeing their playing time increase.
Francisco Garcia, who didn't play in the first four games of the season, is being used as a reliable veteran off the bench by Smart.
Smart encouraged Garcia to not turn down good shots while assuring the player that he'd have a role and that he could expect to play.
Garcia scored 10 of the Kings' 26 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday.
"It's kind of good when you know now it's my time to come in, just bring some energy and whatever happens, happens," Garcia said. "But just go out there and play hard. And that's our job, to go out there and run the floor and just play hard and make plays, so that's what we're doing."
Donte' Greene was in Baltimore after the death of his grandmother and missed Smart's first game as Kings coach.
Greene's playing time has always been inconsistent in his four seasons with the Kings, but Smart told Greene the previous three seasons did not matter and that he wanted to see him play smart, freely but not recklessly.
Greene has come off the bench as a power forward and is part of the cavalry Smart calls upon when the Kings need energy.
"Just relax, have fun and don't be confined to one thing," Greene said was Smart's message. "Go out there, rebound, play defense, shoot, drive, just play the game and have fun not having to look over your shoulder at the bench if you're going to be yanked every minute."
Perhaps the most entertaining bench player is Thomas, the 5-foot-9 rookie who has finished games but also did not play at all in Monday's loss at Minnesota.
Thomas' hustle and court leadership helped the Kings rally against Indiana.
Thomas said that not knowing who will be the key reserve each night helps the team stay prepared.
"I might not play one night but the next night, so I've got to forget about it and just wait until my name's called and be ready," Thomas said.
And Thomas will always remind Smart he's ready, just in case it slips the coach's mind.