SACRAMENTO, California — Isaiah Thomas heard a sound he had never heard before in Sacramento during one of his hot-shooting spurts in the fourth quarter: silence, then a few light boos.
It was just the kind of welcome he had hoped for in his return.
Thomas keyed the decisive run against his former team, and the Phoenix Suns got contributions from all over to outlast the short-handed Sacramento Kings 115-106 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.
Thomas attributed the reaction to a loyal fan base in Sacramento — some of whom wore his old No. 22 Kings jersey — that wants to see wins and took it as a sign of respect.
"It was nice for me," Thomas said. "It probably wasn't too nice for them.'"
In his first game back in Sacramento, Thomas led an 18-7 spurt to start the fourth quarter that put Phoenix up by 15. The former Kings fan favorite finished with 17 points, five assists and three rebounds in just 29 minutes.
But he was hardly alone.
Marcus Morris had 20 points and nine rebounds, Eric Bledsoe added 18 points and six assists, Markieff Morris scored 17 points and Goran Dragic finished with 16 points and six assists for the surging Suns.
"We're small a lot of times. We get hurt on the boards some times. But the guys play hard," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Darren Collison scored 19 points, and Rudy Gay added 16 points and five assists for the Kings, who sorely missed DeMarcus Cousins inside. The franchise center sat out with a stomach illness.
Interim coach Tyrone Corbin said the illness is unrelated to the viral meningitis that sidelined Cousins for 10 games previously. Regardless of the issue, Sacramento has struggled without him.
The Kings are 2-9 when Cousins hasn't played this season.
Reggie Evans tried to make up for Cousins' absence, going for 11 points and 16 rebounds, but the lack of Cousins left the middle open on both ends.
The Suns shot 48.9 percent, including 14 for 33 from 3-point range, pushing the pace and creating all kinds of space. Sacramento shot 44.1 percent and 7 of 29 from beyond the arc.
"That's who they are and they are going to shoot a lot of 3s," Corbin said. "Unfortunately, they made a fair share of them tonight."
The teams traded scores for the first three quarters in what was a sloppy but fast-pace contest most of the way.
Thomas received a moderate round of applause — with some giving him a standing ovation — when he checked in during the first quarter, though he didn't do much at the start. Thomas, selected by Sacramento with the 60th and final pick of the 2011 draft, went to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade deal over the summer.
As he so often did in Sacramento, the 5-foot-9 guard came up big in the biggest moments.
Thomas found Marcus Morris for a 3-pointer and then made two layups between a free throw to open the fourth. He added a couple more dazzling plays and a layup that put Phoenix up 112-97 with 5:09 to play.
Thomas scored nine of his 17 points in the final quarter.
"You could tell," Marcus Morris said, "he had an extra hop in his step."
Suns: Phoenix improved to 5-0 when it uses the starting lineup of Bledsoe, Dragic, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris and Alex Len.
Kings: Sacramento started 9-5 this season and is 3-12 since. ... Reserves Ramon Sessions (strained lower back) and Ryan Hollins (personal reason) also sat out.
RESPECT FOR MALONE
Thomas said he was surprised by the Kings firing Michael Malone as coach two weeks ago. "Same as everybody else's reaction, like, 'Why? What else did you guys want?'" Thomas said. "It's none of my business. I know that's the NBA. Nobody's job is guaranteed. It just (stinks) because he's such a great guy and a great coach. They had different plans."
New York Knicks big man Amare Stoudemire, wearing a black beanie and sunglasses, watched the game from a front-row baseline seat. The Knicks play in Sacramento on Saturday.
Suns: At Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Kings: Host New York Knicks on Saturday.
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