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Big men lead Kings past Cavaliers

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From page B6 | January 03, 2013 |

CLEVELAND — Jason Thompson and the Sacramento Kings overcame their shortcomings for a rare road win.

Thompson had 19 points and 10 rebounds and DeMarcus Cousins added 18, leading the Kings to their second road win of the season, a 97-94 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Cousins, who had 16 rebounds, sparked a dominant frontcourt performance by Sacramento, which outscored Cleveland 52-36 in the paint.

John Salmons’ 3-pointer from the corner with 52.9 seconds remaining gave Sacramento the lead for good at 92-90. The win broke a seven-game losing streak away from home for the Kings, who are 2-13 on the road and played without injured guards Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton, their second and third leading scorers. The Kings’ previous road win was a 99-80 victory over Portland on Dec. 8.

Salmons’ clutch shot came after Kyrie Irving’s two free throws gave Cleveland a 90-89 lead with 1:12 remaining. As the Kings worked for a shot the Cavaliers double-teamed Cousins, who found Salmons open in the right corner.

“John couldn’t really find his game (Wednesday), but he made a big shot when we needed it at the end,” said Kings coach Keith Smart. “DeMarcus did a nice job of finding him when the Cavs came at him.”

Added Cousin: “I feel like when this team shares the basketball, we’re hard to beat. That’s my reason for doing it. I want to win games.”

Irving scored 22 points to lead Cleveland, which has lost nine of 11 and is 3-11 at Quicken Loans Arena, where it has dropped five straight. After Salmons’ crucial basket, Irving committed a turnover that led to Aaron Brooks’ layup for a 94-90 lead.

Irving hit a shot in the lane with 12.3 seconds left, cutting the lead to 94-92. Jimmer Fredette’s two free throws with 8.9 seconds remaining made it a four-point game. Dion Waiters’ basket cut the lead to two. Brooks split two free throws with two seconds remaining. Irving fired a desperation shot from beyond halfcourt that hit off the rim at the buzzer, but the officials ruled the shot would not have counted.

Francisco Garcia scored 14 points and Brooks added 13 for Sacramento.

Evans, who has missed 13 games because of a sore left knee, will rejoin the team Friday in Toronto. The Kings said Wednesday that a second opinion Evans got on his bothersome knee from Dr. Steve Lombardo in Los Angeles supported the team’s treatment and rehabilitation plan.

Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, the league’s leading rebounder, missed his seventh straight game with a bruised right knee.

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