RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

Isaiah Thomas (22) is congratulated by Tyreke Evans after making a layup to end the first half. Thomas had 25 points.

Inspired Kings defeat Jazz

Published: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 - 9:35 am

It had been more than two weeks since the Kings had played at home.

And Saturday night's game was unlike any other home game this season.

Fans targeted Saturday's game against the Utah Jazz as part of the "Here We Buy" movement to keep the Kings in Sacramento. The goal was to put as many fans as possible inside Sleep Train Arena to let the NBA know the Kings are wanted and supported by the region.

So Kings coach Keith Smart passed along this message to his team.

"Let's go out and put a show on," he said.

The Kings did just that.

The announced crowd of 16,193 saw the Kings play the type of basketball they hadn't displayed for the better part of a month in a 120-109 win over the Jazz.

The Kings were coming off a season-high six-game trip on which they went 1-5. They lost the last four games, capped by an overtime defeat Monday at Utah.

Smart said he wanted the Kings to impress the fans and show what they had worked on in two full-contact practices leading up to the game.

The offense featured teamwork. The Kings didn't come out flat, and they exhibited the energy most expected them to play with every night.

Isaiah Thomas led six Kings in double figures with 25 points. Marcus Thornton scored 24 points off the bench, while Jason Thompson followed up his 23-point effort at Utah with 21 points.

Thomas said seeing fans tailgating before the game added to the excitement.

"That only happens in college," Thomas said. "You don't see people tailgating at games in the NBA. That was great. The support system we got from the fans was one of a kind."

Thomas said the fans provided the boost the Kings needed to end their losing streak.

The players encouraged the fans to keep the building loud. Cowbells rang from the stands.

The final minutes were dominated by a "Here We Stay!" chant, a "Sacramento" chant and the wave.

"I've never had a chance to do the wave, so I made sure I included myself in that, and it was an incredible experience," DeMarcus Cousins said.

The wave made a few trips around the arena.

"Yeah, I got a little fatigued at the end," Cousins said. "Didn't expect it to last that long, but it kind of did, and I stuck through it."

Mayor Kevin Johnson sat courtside, which he has regularly since the announcement Jan. 21 that the Maloofs had agreed to sell a controlling interest of the Kings to Chris Hansen's Seattle-based ownership group. That group intends to move the Kings to Seattle if the sale is approved by the NBA.

The Kings are 2-8 since the announcement.

Thornton said the last three years of relocation talk would be enough to keep some fans away.

"That just shows how loyal the fans are out here," he said. " … With all this speculation going on, they could have easily packed it in and said we're not going to the game, but they still show their support, and we're thankful for that."

The Kings host Houston tonight, and Thornton extended an invitation to the fans.

"I told everybody to come back," Thornton said. "We need that every game."

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Read more articles by Jason Jones



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