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  • Chuck Burton / Associated Press

    Isaiah Thomas, left, and James Johnson react during the final minute as the Kings held on for their third win in four games.

  • Chuck Burton / Associated Press

    Chuck Burton Associated Press The Kings' DeMarcus Cousins grabs a rebound against the Bobcats' Bismack Biyombo.

Kings hold on to beat Bobcats

Published: Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:45 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Through 41 games, the Kings have shown they can run their offense in two distinct ways.

They can move the ball, look for the open teammate and avoid forcing unnecessarily tough shots.

Or they can resort to one player taking on the opposition by himself – a ploy that leads to more losses than wins.

With the score 90-90 against the Charlotte Bobcats with 2:38 to play Saturday night, the Kings opted to not become selfish down the stretch and escaped with a 97-93 win at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Kings used good passing, defense and free throws to win for the fourth time on the road this season.

Finding that combination hasn't been easy. And coming off their worst offensive game of the season – 69 points in a loss at Memphis on Friday – the Kings needed to play through excuses and not beat themselves with late mistakes.

The Kings didn't allow the Bobcats' lopsided advantage in free throws attempted (38-21) or being in the second of back-to-back games (as was Charlotte) get the best of them.

"I felt like we executed pretty well," center DeMarcus Cousins said. "We normally make some mistakes down the stretch, but we showed growth tonight in these close situations and made some good plays."

After Isaiah Thomas' steal led to Tyreke Evans' layup and a 92-90 lead with 1:19 to play, Cousins found Evans for another layup and a 94-90 lead with 1:02 left.

The Bobcats made it 94-93 on Ramon Sessions' three-point play, but Thomas iced the game by going 3 for 4 from the foul line in the final 18.4 seconds.

"We got some stops, and that's what it was about," Thomas said. "Tyreke made some plays, attacked the basket, he made a layup, and then I made free throws. We stuck together, and we fought this one out."

Kings coach Keith Smart was happy his team was able to win on the road, where some of their worst games have taken place.

The Bobcats (10-30) have lost 14 straight home games and were in position to end their streak if the Kings (16-25) had reverted to their bad habits late in the game.

"I think a combination of running what we needed to be ran at that particular time was critical," Smart said. "We didn't take a quick jump shot. We didn't try to force shots in there."

It also helps when the Kings' four leading scorers show up on the same night.

Cousins, their leading scorer, had 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Evans, the second-leading scorer, had 16 points and four assists.

Marcus Thornton, the No. 3 scorer, had a game-high 18 points off the bench.

And Thomas had 15 points and season highs of five rebounds and seven assists.

The Kings are 4-15 on the road and are in an 11-game stretch that includes nine on the road.

But the Kings are feeling good, having won three of their last four games and nine of their last 17.

The wins usually featured ball movement and balanced offense. The losses tended to be more about selfish play.

"I've been preaching it for a long time," Cousins said. "When we play together and pass the ball, we're a hard team to beat. As long as we do that, the sky's the limit for this team."

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