SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- For one of the few times this season, the Sacramento Kings found a way to win in the closing seconds.
Without some key players all season, the Kings have lacked that closer mentality in losing several tight games this season.
"That's just how the NBA is, there are maybe five or 10 games I felt we should have won this year," said Salmons, who missed Thursday's practice and was fighting flu symptoms all game. "It feels good to get one that maybe we didn't deserve."
Down by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, the Kings got back in the game with a 10-2 run and pulled ahead behind the clutch play of Salmons, Francisco Garcia and Brad Miller, who had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Down 113-111, Salmons was in trouble and almost lost the ball near the top of the circle. But he found Garcia open on the baseline and the result was a 3-pointer over the outstretched hand of defender Rudy Gay with 7.9 seconds left that put the Kings ahead for the first time since late in the second quarter.
"It feels good making a shot like that when you've grown up watching guys like Michael Jordan and dreamed about doing it yourself," said Garcia, who made three 3-pointers and had 22 points and four steals. "I want to be in that type of position. John lost the ball a little bit, but he still got it to me. That was the play we wanted to execute."
Trailing 114-113, Gay made another costly mistake seconds later, losing the ball on a dribble drive to the basket. Brad Miller made two free throws with 2.5 seconds left, then stole the inbound pass at midcourt to end the game.
"This one hurts, definitely, we thought we had this game," said Gay, who made four 3-pointers and had 31 points and seven rebounds.
Memphis lost its second straight and has dropped 18 consecutive games in Sacramento going back to April 19, 1998, when they played in Vancouver and current King Shareef Abdur-Rahim was in his second season with the Grizzlies.
"We come here to win and you can't worry about the past," Mike Miller said. "It's a tough place to play. They made a lot of shots and we didn't play defense the way we should have."
Beno Udrih scored 25 points for the Kings, whose starters all played 37 minutes or more. Despite appearing tired, the Kings won their second straight by outscoring Memphis 35-28 in the fourth quarter.
"In the last 5 minutes of the game we started making shots and that picks up your energy," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "We've played through adversity all year, this wasn't the first time. Our guys don't quit."
Quiet for most of the game, reserve Quincy Douby hit a driving bank shot to cut the Memphis lead to 112-111 with 18.7 seconds remaining.
The Kings continue to play short-handed, missing their three top scorers from last season, injured Mike Bibby, Kevin Martin and Ron Artest. Martin may return Saturday, Bibby is due back Wednesday and Artest should be playing by the end of the month.
Mike Miller scored 11 points in the third quarter when the Grizzlies pushed the pace in taking an 85-81 lead in the fourth.
During a first half where neither team seemed too interested at the defensive end. Gay scored 14 points and Gasol had nine to give Memphis a 56-54 lead. Salmons scored 15 for the Kings, who were outscored 32-24 in the second quarter.
- Abdur-Rahim, who has been injured most of the season for the Kings, was selected as the 2008 Usher Raymond Altruism Trumpet Award for his community work.
- Mike Miller made his first six shots, including four from 3-point range for Memphis, which shot 13-for-28 from long range.
- Gary Gerould, the voice of the Kings, was behind the microphone again after missing his first home game (Tuesday) due to illness in 23 years.