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  • John Raoux / Associated Press

    Tyreke Evans scored 17 points and had seven assists for the Kings, who had seven players in double figures.

  • John Raoux / Associated Press

    John Salmons, left, Marcus Thornton, middle, and DeMarcus Cousins relax in the fourth quarter. The Kings' 24-point margin of victory was their biggest of the season.

Salmons' slam has Kings shaking heads

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Mar. 4, 2013 - 5:55 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – If John Salmons had looked sluggish and worn out Wednesday night, it wouldn't have been a surprise.

Salmons, 33, is the oldest King.

A night earlier, he played a team-high 50 minutes in a double-overtime loss at Miami. Many of those minutes were spent defending three-time league MVP LeBron James.

Salmons looked anything but tired with 8:39 left in the first quarter against the Orlando Magic. That's when Salmons rose up for a dunk over Magic forward Andrew Nicholson.

The dunk was part of a 29-9 run to close the first quarter in what became a 125-101 rout of the Magic at Amway Center.

It was the Kings' largest margin of victory this season and ended a season-worst six-game losing streak.

It also ended a nine-game road losing streak and the notion that none of Salmons' teammates had seen him finish around the rim like that.

"John getting the dunk off the break in traffic was pretty unique," said coach Keith Smart. "We haven't seen that in a while. He was fresh tonight."

Salmons is on a hot four-game offensive stretch, during which he's averaging 15.5 points. He's made 15 of 20 three-point attempts during that span, including 4 of 5 Wednesday to finish with a team-high 21 points.

"I think, as a team, we've been moving the ball a lot better, and I've been getting shots in a lot better rhythm so I'm involved in the game," Salmons said.

The Kings (20-39) had seven players score in double figures against Orlando (16-42). The bench provided a season-high 64 points, and the Kings tallied 31 assists.

Marcus Thornton had 20 points off the bench. Tyreke Evans had 17 points and seven assists.

"I thought the pace of how we were playing was giving (Salmons) cleaner looks over the last couple games," Smart said. "We've gotten into the lane, forced the defense to draw in, and our guys have been making plays for him.

"I very seldom, if at all, lose confidence in what he's doing on the floor."

The Kings look to Salmons to make jump shots. They also know he'll take on the most difficult defensive assignment on the wing most nights.

But it was the dunk that caught his teammates' attention.

"I've never seen John dunk on anybody," said center DeMarcus Cousins. "That surprised a lot of us."

Salmons said he dunked on guard Luke Ridnour last season.

Nicholson, however, is 6-foot-9 while Ridnour is 6-2.

"I thought (Salmons) was going to be done after the dunk," Cousins said. "But it was good we were able to come out with the energy even after (Tuesday) night's game."

Salmons wasn't done. He scored 11 points in the third quarter to help the Kings build a 33-point advantage before sitting out the fourth quarter.

"I was shocked," Evans said. "I've never seen John dunk on nobody, but John is John. He's laid back. He didn't say nothing, just ran back down the floor."

Salmons grinned when talking about the dunk.

"It was fun," Salmons said. "That's what the game is about, having fun. I'm glad I was able to do it."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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