Omri Casspi continued to cement his place as one of the best rookies in the NBA on Tuesday night, but once again it was not enough to guide the Sacramento Kings to a victory.
The Kings suffered their fourth straight defeat, losing 113-109 to the Phoenix Suns, with Casspi scoring a career-high 24 points, hitting 10-of-19 shots from the field, including three-of-six from beyond the arc. The 21-year-old Israeli, who also took seven rebounds, has topped 20 points in four straight games, but was far more concerned with the team's losing streak.
"I'm just disappointed. We need to find a way to win those games and we will do it," he said after the game. "We can promise that. We are too good of a team. We will get there."
The Suns snapped a seven-game road losing streak with the victory, with Steve Nash contributing 30 points and 12 assists and Amare Stoudemire scoring 24.
The Kings erased a 20-point first half deficit but could never take the lead against the Suns, falling for the 14th time in the last 16 meetings between the teams.
Nash and Stoudemire came through down the stretch for the Suns, helping them win their first road game since November 29 in Toronto.
Beno Udrih tied the game for Sacramento at 103-103 with a tough jumper with 1:49 remaining. After the teams traded turnovers, Stoudemire got the lead back for the Suns with two free throws with 1:10 to go.
The Kings missed three shots right at the rim on the next possession, including two by Tyreke Evans. Nash gave Phoenix control with a jumper that made it 107-103 with 44.5 seconds to go. Stoudemire's jumper soon after restored the four-point lead and Nash hit four free throws in the closing seconds to ice the game.
Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 27 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
The Kings fought back from a 20-point deficit in the first half to get within six late in the third quarter despite briefly losing Evans when he re-injured a sprained right ankle that recently kept him out of three games.
Evans returned to start the fourth quarter and fed Casspi for a three-pointer early in the quarter that helped the Kings cut it to 88-84. Sacramento tied it on a layup by Andres Nocioni off a blind pass from Evans early in the fourth and the game stayed close from there.
"We know ourselves and we know we have been in situations like that before, like in Chicago," said Casspi when asked of the Kings' comeback. "We are going to keep playing hard. If we play good defense, make some stops and make some shots, we will get back into the game and we did it. Stuff happens and we will find our way."
Lakers 88, Rockets 79
Andrew Bynum scored 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers fought back to beat the Rockets, notching their fourth consecutive NBA victory.
Kobe Bryant added 22 points, but had just three field goals in the second half when he picked up four fouls.
The Lakers maintained a four and a half game lead in the Western Conference and a two-game lead over Boston and Cleveland for the league's best record.
Carl Landry led the Rockets with 19 points.
Trail Blazers 105
Memphis closed with a 13-1 run over the final four minutes to beat host Portland.
O.J. Mayo scored 27 points, hitting 10 of 18 shots including four 3-pointers, as Memphis moved above .500 for the first time this season.
Zach Randolph also scored 27 points and had a game-high 14 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who have won four consecutive games.
Brandon Roy hit nine of 18 shots and scored 27 points to lead Portland.
Pacers 97, Magic 90
Roy Hibbert scored a career-high 26 points, leading Indiana over visiting Orlando.
Hibbert, a 2.13-meter center, added eight rebounds and four blocks. Luther Head had 18 points for the Pacers.
Mickael Pietrus and Jameer Nelson each scored 16 for the Magic, who still lead the Southeast Division despite consecutive losses.
Mavericks 98, Pistons 93
In Dallas, the hosts overcame a slow start to hand Detroit its 10th consecutive loss.
Jason Terry scored 26 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 22 for the Mavericks, who recovered after shooting just 29 percent in the first quarter and trailing by 14 points during the first half.
The Pistons hadn't dropped 10 in a row since the end of the 1993-94 season. They lost their final 13 games that season.
Richard Hamilton led Detroit with 20 points.
Nuggets 123, Warriors 122
J.R. Smith hit two free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining to lift Denver over Golden State.
Smith, one of four Nuggets to finish with at least 20 points, was fouled by Monta Ellis while throwing up a desperation three-pointer after taking an inbounds pass with just 3 seconds remaining.
Ellis had given Golden State a 122-121 lead when he made a 10-foot turnaround jumper with 15 seconds to play.
Corey Maggette scored a season-high 35 points to lead the Warriors, who lost their eighth straight on the road.
Bobcats 113, Bulls 108
Charlotte held off a fast-finishing Chicago in North Carolina, to notch a third straight victory.
Gerald Wallace scored 32 points, and Stephen Jackson and Flip Murray added 25 each for the Bobcats, in a fast-paced game that saw both teams shoot 51 percent.
Derrick Rose and John Salmons missed potential game-tying three-point attempts in the closing seconds for the Bulls, who gave up seventh place in the Eastern Conference to the Bobcats despite wiping out a 13-point second-quarter deficit.
Rose scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter.
Wizards 104, 76ers 97
In Philadelphia, Washington overcame an 18-point deficit to defeat the home team.
Antawn Jamison tied his season-high with 32 points and had 14 rebounds, and Nick Young scored 21 points for the Wizards, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
Andre Iguodala scored 20 points to lead the Sixers.
Bucks 98, Nets 76
Milwaukee got a rare road win with a comfortable victory over hapless New Jersey.
Andrew Bogut scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half, while Carlos Delfino - who had scored just 10 points in the Bucks' past five games - added 17.
Yi Jianlian had 22 points to lead the Nets, who lost for the 31st time in 34 games this season.