MIAMI Was it a moral victory? That wasn't how the Kings described their latest loss. But they certainly left American Airlines Arena with their heads held high.
In a game most expected them to lose, the Kings had a chance to beat the defending champion Miami Heat.
So even though their losing streak is now at a season-worst six games, the Kings weren't down on themselves Tuesday night after their 141-129 double-overtime loss.
The Kings (19-39) had good vibes because they worked together in a way not seen for long stretches this season. They also displayed an energy and focus that often has been lacking.
It was almost enough to end the Heat's winning streak. But thanks to their superstars, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Miami (41-14) won its 12th game in a row.
"It's tough, but this is a loss we consider a good loss," DeMarcus Cousins said. "Our effort tonight was incredible, and if we come out and play like that every night, we can beat a lot of teams in this league. I'm always disappointed in a loss, but I'm proud of my teammates."
James finished with 40 points, eight rebounds and 16 assists, and Wade had 39 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Heat overcame a huge performance by Marcus Thornton. He made a career-high eight three-pointers in 12 attempts and finished with a season-high 36 points.
Thornton sparked the 11-2 run that forced the first overtime with three three-pointers in the final 2:20 of regulation. After Wade missed two free throws with 20.8 seconds left, a putback by Cousins capped the rally and tied the score at 112-112 with 8.5 seconds left.
In the first overtime, the Heat blew a chance to take the lead when James missed 1 of 2 free throws with 29.3 seconds to go. The Kings then had an opportunity to go ahead, but Isaiah Thomas' shot was blocked by Chris Bosh with eight seconds to go.
John Salmons blocked James' layup attempt with 2.1 seconds remaining, and the game went to a second overtime at 124-124.
After making a steal, Thornton had a chance to give the Kings the lead. But his layup attempt was blocked by Wade on a play where it appeared he made contact with Thornton.
"I got hit in my head, so it was very tough not to get that call," Thornton said. "But there's nothing I can do about it."
That play sparked a 9-0 Miami run, with James getting the first seven points, and the Heat led 137-127 with 1:29 to play.
"We had every opportunity to win that game, but it didn't fall our way this time," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "We had a game where two players had to get 40 and 39 points to put us away."
Tyreke Evans scored 26 points, and Cousins had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Kings, who compiled a season-high 33 assists.
Perhaps the best thing the Kings took from the defeat was Thornton looking like the player they hoped he'd be as a reserve.
Thornton said his game was the product of good teamwork, something he hopes continues tonight in Orlando and for the rest of the season.
"This is the best I've had this year," Thornton said. "I actually felt like I was part of something."