It would seem that the Sacramento Kings would catch a break hosting the hobbled New York Knicks at Sleep Train Arena on Friday night.
The Knicks were in second place in the Eastern Conference, but they would take the floor without two of their starters in Carmelo Anthony (hyperextended left knee) and Raymond Felton (fractured right pinkie finger).
The Kings would be without Tyreke Evans (sore left knee) for the 11th time in 15 games but they would get back DeMarcus Cousins after a team-imposed suspension.
Isaiah Thomas was inserted into the Kings’ starting line-up while Aaron Brooks went to the bench and it’d prove to be beneficial.
Thomas hit two of the Kings’ four three-point shots in the first quarter. From there the Kings took command hitting six more three pointers that lead to a 71-50 lead over the Knicks at halftime.
In the second half the Knicks decided to show the Kings why they were second in the east.
New York erased a 27-point first half deficit to lead by five points midway through the fourth quarter.
Trailing 105-103, Cousins stole the ball from Jason Kidd with 15.8 seconds left. It was the perfect set-up for one of the Kings’ biggest surprises of the season.
James Johnson made his first three pointer of the season as time expired to give the Kings a 106-105 victory over the Knicks.
Johnson finished with a season-high 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting and seven rebounds. Cousins had 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals in his return to the Kings and Marcus Thornton added 18 points.
J.R. Smith had a season-high 28 points to go with seven rebounds for the Knicks and Tyson Chandler added 21 points and 18 rebounds.Jason Kidd finished with 16 points, six rebounds and seven assists and rookie Chris Copeland added 23 points.
Johnson has shot the ball under 40 percent for the season but his jumper has improved under the tutelage of assistant coach and hall of famer Alex English. Cousins thinks this could be Johnson’s breakout:
“We tease him all the time about his shooting, but for him to have the confidence to shoot it and shoot it the right way and make it, that’s big for him. Hopefully that game-winner can carry over into other games and his shot can really get going.”
Giving up a 27-point lead usually spells disaster for any team, but Johnson said that the game was “a battle of the punches:”
“We just want to win. It’s different when we’re at home than on the road and right now we’re at home so that turned out (okay) for us.”
The Kings will play their last game of 2012 hosting the Boston Celtics on Sunday night. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. PST.