Marcus Thornton joked Wednesday afternoon that the padding he's wearing to protect his injured left thigh made the Louisiana native feel like New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Then in the fourth quarter Thursday night, Thornton took a hit like a football player when Portland forward Gerald Wallace landed on Wallace's neck in a collision under the basket.
"I was kind of woozy at first," Thornton said. " I was saying I was ready, but I really wasn't. I was kind of wobbly."
Thornton managed to make two free throws before being examined for a concussion and neck strain.
Thornton returned and, after the Trail Blazers took a two-point lead with 6:03 to play, scored five unanswered points to help the Kings beat Portland 95-92 at Power Balance Pavilion.
The win ended the Kings' season-worst five-game losing streak.
Thornton said after the game his neck was still sore, but he was smiling in his first game back since Jan. 21. He had missed the previous four games with a hematoma in his left thigh.
"I can't win for losing," Thornton said. "First game back, I hurt my neck."
Thornton played a game-high 41 minutes and led the Kings with 20 points.
Kings coach Keith Smart said his team lacked some savvy without Thornton.
"Marcus is a know-how guy," Smart said. "And he's going to make plays in a game on both sides of the ball."
Thornton, however, committed a key turnover late in the game. He only needed to hold onto the ball with 13.4 seconds to play but had it stolen, allowing the Blazers to take two three pointers to tie the score in the final 9.9 seconds.
"Gerald Wallace just stole it," Thornton said. "That's on me not protecting the ball and not being strong with the ball. That will never happen again."
That comment also could apply to Smart, who stuck with his rotation Thursday after some late substitutions Tuesday at Golden State took the Kings out of their game as they blew a lead and lost.
That meant center DeMarcus Cousins, who picked up his fourth foul with 8:15 to play in the third quarter, sat out the rest of the game.
First-round draft pick Jimmer Fredette didn't play for the first time this season.
"You've got to err on the side of the rhythm of the game," Smart said " The other night, I felt the rhythm that we had, and I made a mistake by changing that rhythm (from) the group on the floor. I keep saying we don't have one superstar so it's not a thing where I have to force-feed a guy back into the game."
The Blazers shot 60.5 percent in the first half and led by 13 points before the Kings improved their defense in the second half, holding Portland to 31.1 percent.
The Kings (7-15) outscored Portland 24-13 in the third quarter to lead 71-69. The Blazers (13-10) shot 6 of 24 in the third.
LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds for Portland.
John Salmons finished with a season-high 19 points for the Kings. Tyreke Evans added 18 points, five rebounds and five assists.