The Kings had fallen behind by two points midway through the fourth quarter Thursday night, and Isaiah Thomas had just turned the ball over.
The rookie sprinted back on defense and found himself near the basket with Portland's Wesley Matthews, Gerald Wallace and Jamal Crawford coming on a fast break.
Thomas, 5-foot-9, decided he wouldn't take on the biggest of the trio, Wallace, and would try to steal the ball or force a miss by Crawford or Matthews.
Matthews, eight inches taller than Thomas, kept the ball and Thomas blocked the layup attempt.
"I had nothing to lose," Thomas said. "(Matthews) took it himself and I did the best I could to make a play, and I got a play on the ball."
The Kings took the lead on the next possession and went on to beat the Trail Blazers.
That's the kind of effort that has earned Thomas playing time in the fourth quarter of close games.
Not only has Thomas helped on offense, but he's proving to be beneficial on defense, too.
Even though Thomas is the shortest Kings player, he has been pivotal in the past two home wins when the Kings needed to tighten up their defense late.
"When he's on the floor, you don't worry about him being posted up, because he's going to fight to keep a guy from posting him up," Kings coach Keith Smart said.
Thomas has received more playing time because of his confidence, leadership and performance on the court, Smart said.
"I started to see a lot of games we were close in, there was one reason and it was him," Smart said. "You see, when he's on the floor, the team is in a positive flow, and you've got to reward guys like that."
How Thomas responded to his turnover is the kind of play Smart has come to expect.
"He made a mistake on the other end and got back into the play," Smart said. "He didn't quit on the play, and he goes up and gets a huge play a winning play."
Thomas said he tries to be a "pest" defensively and hopes teammates follow his lead.
"When you see me out there picking up fullcourt, that kind of gets everybody else in that mindset that we can get a stop this possession," Thomas said.
"I'm not saying I'm the reason why we're getting stops, but I feel like when I'm in the game I bring a different attitude, and I'm going to change the pace of the game, not just on offense but on the defensive end, and guys see that."
On defense, Thomas prefers to be physical, so he'll go in the paint for rebounds and challenge shots, like he did against Matthews.
"Guys don't like to be physical like that more than I thought in this league, so I try to push them around," Thomas said.
Thomas, who thought teams would try to attack him more defensively, enjoys being the aggressor.
"My teammates help me out a lot," Thomas said. " Being a defensive player, I don't want anybody scoring on me, so I'm going to try to do whatever I can for them not to score on me."
Full roster The Kings recalled second-year center Hassan Whiteside from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League on Friday.
Whiteside, who was assigned to the Bighorns Jan. 1, started five games.
Whiteside averaged averaged 7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and three blocks in 18.9 minutes during 11 games.