James Johnson is usually one of the last Kings to leave the practice court because he spends time with assistant coach Bobby Jackson working on his three-point shooting.
One point Jackson has harped on Johnson about is not to look down when he catches the ball to shoot and to keep his focus on the target.
When it mattered most, Jackson's advice paid off when Johnson made a three-pointer at the buzzer to save the Kings from an epic collapse and give them a 106-105 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Johnson had missed all 11 of his three-point attempts this season, but there was no better time for Jackson's tutoring to pay off.
"Yeah, that was a perfect time for that," Johnson said. "I wasn't looking anywhere except for the rim. There was no passing that out after I got the ball. I knew I had to put it up with confidence, and that's what I did."
It was the Kings' 15th three-pointer of the game, a season high.
That the Kings needed Johnson to save them was as improbable as him making the game winner with his first three-pointer of the season.
The Kings led by as many as 27 points in the second quarter on their way to one of their most impressive halves of the season.
The Kings (10-19) matched their season high for points in a half (71) and shot 59.5 percent. That included making 10 of 15 three-pointers.
But the Knicks (21-9) weren't going to lose easily, even without injured starters Raymond Felton (broken pinky) and Carmelo Anthony (hyperextended left knee).
The Knicks outscored the Kings 31-16 in the third quarter. The Knicks took the lead 97-95 on a three-pointer from Jason Kidd with 5:58 to play.
The Kings trailed 105-101 with 2:51 left and pulled within two on two free throws by Isaiah Thomas with 33.2 seconds to play.
The final sequence was set up when DeMarcus Cousins stole the ball on a lob attempt by Kidd to Tyson Chandler with 15.8 seconds to play.
That led to Thomas trying to set up Johnson for a layup that he passed back to Thomas rather than risk drawing an offensive foul.
Thomas missed a jumper with 8.9 seconds to play, and Johnson missed a putback with 7.8 seconds to go.
Thomas rebounded the ball, and it eventually ended up with John Salmons, who found Johnson for the game winner.
"That's just how we drew it up," said Kings coach Keith Smart. "For the least likely guy to make three to win the game. No, but really, favor was on our side and we were able to get a win."
Cousins returned to the starting lineup after two games away. He was suspended for Sunday's win against the Portland Trail Blazers for unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team. The discipline stemmed from a verbal altercation at halftime Dec. 21 during the Kings' loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Thomas also returned to the lineup. He started the first nine games before being replaced by Aaron Brooks as Smart looked to shake up what had been a struggling offensive group.
"I thought that Isaiah would provide what I needed," Smart said. "We had DeMarcus back and I needed someone to be a little wise and strong and to be able to play there. I thought it gave us the right boost we needed."