WASHINGTON It's been said more than once that if the Kings are to win games, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins need to lead the way.
Evans and Cousins were the lead cheerleaders for the Kings in the fourth quarter Wednesday night.
Cousins and Evans watched the entire fourth quarter from the bench as the Kings overcame a first half in which their defense was virtually nonexistent to beat the Washington Wizards 115-107 at Verizon Center.
The win ended a season-long six-game losing streak for the Kings as they enter the All-Star break.
Kings coach Keith Smart was pleased with the attitude two of the "cornerstones" of the franchise showed late in the game.
Cousins told Smart to leave Chuck Hayes in the game in the fourth quarter. Evans, who had 22 points, six rebounds and four assists when he picked up his fourth foul with 10:18 left in the third quarter, sat as Francisco Garcia finished the game.
Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson also closed out the game for the Kings.
When Garcia scored the Kings' final points on a three-pointer with 1:14 to play, Cousins and Evans were the first to jump off the bench with a celebratory dance and three fingers raised.
"That's the growth I'm trying for our team to have if we're ever going to be good and turn our franchise around," Smart said.
"Two of our best players could have sat over there and moped and complained, but they saw what was happening out there on the floor and allowed those guys to close this game out and get a win tonight."
The Kings gave up 68 points in the first half, tied for the most they've allowed this season, but held the Wizards to 39 in the second half.
Cousins said that with the way Hayes was playing, he didn't want to disrupt things as the Kings closed the game on a 20-7 run.
"There was no need for me to go in there and change that," Cousins said. "They were doing an incredible job."
Evans looked to be on his way to a career night, scoring 20 first-half points. Cousins had a rough shooting night (6 of 20) but had 16 points and 16 rebounds.
"It's a team game," Evans said. "I don't think it's about one person, so I told coach let Cisco stay and DeMarcus told coach to let Chuck stay in. That's what we've got to do to be leaders. When something is going good, and they're playing good, let them finish the game out."
After Evans left the game, Thornton scored 18 of his 22 points. Thomas scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.
Thomas has 78 points in his first four starts, most by a Kings rookie since at least the 1970-71 season. Otis Birdsong also had 78 points in his first four starts in 1977.
Thomas could finally feel good about his solid play since joining the starting lineup.
"I've got a smile on my face now," Thomas said. "We've got a little bit of confidence rolling into the All-Star break, and I'm just proud of my teammates because we didn't give up tonight and we got the win."
The Kings also matched their season-high in scoring and had a season-high 64 points in the paint.
The Kings (11-22) allowed the Wizards (7-26) to shoot 58.3 percent in the first half but limited the Wizards to 36.1 percent in the second half.
"It shows us and it shows the coaching staff that we can do it," Thornton said of the defense. "They're going to be expecting us to do it every game."