SACRAMENTO — Reggie Theus sank two free throws with one second left to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 107-106 win over the Clippers in the season-opener Friday night before 10,333 fans at the Arco Arena.
Theus, who had a game-high 33 points, scored 7 of the final 9 points in the game.
The Clippers had a 106-98 lead with 1:22 left after center Benoit Benjamin made a pair of free throws.
But Theus made a three-point shot with 1:08 left to cut the Clippers' lead to 106-101.
Theus sank two free throws after being fouled by Lancaster Gordon with 40 seconds left to cut it to 106-103.
The Clippers called time out immediately afterward. But they made a strategic error. Instead of taking the ball out at halfcourt, they took it out underneath the basket.
Marques Johnson inbounded the ball to Cedric Maxwell. But the Kings trapped Maxwell in the corner. He tried to pass to Johnson, but former Clipper guard Derek Smith stole it and set up center LaSalle Thompson for an easy shot under the basket to cut the Clippers' lead to 106-105 with 36 seconds left.
Clipper guard Mike Woodson missed a jumper at the other end with eight seconds left, and the Kings called time out to set up the final play.
Mark Olberding inbounded the ball to Smith at midcourt. Smith faked a jumper and passed inside to Theus.
Theus missed a shot in the key, but referee Bruce Alexander called a blocking foul on Maxwell.
The Clippers disputed the call.
Said Maxwell: "It was no foul. I hate to pay $100 (the league fine for criticizing officials), but you don't make a call like that unless you take a guy's head off. There was no blood on the floor and his head was still on his body."
The Clippers had a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but Johnson missed an uncontested three-point shot.
Johnson finished with 31 points to lead the Clippers, while Maxwell added 21. Woodson had 14 points.
Eddie Johnson had 20 points for the Kings, while Smith had 18 points. Thompson had 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Benjamin had just 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Theus scored 22 points in 18 minutes of the first half as the Kings took a 59-52 lead at halftime.
Theus, who scored 13 points in the first quarter, made his last five shots in the first quarter, and Sacramento led 34-25. In the first half, Theus made 8 of 13 shots from the floor and 6 of 8 free throws.
Smith, who scored the first basket of the game after blocking a shot by Woodson, had seven points in the first quarter, and Eddie Johnson and Otis Thorpe had six points apiece.
Smith finished the first half with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
The Clippers shot just 38.4% from the floor in the first quarter, making only 10 of 26 shots. They were outrebounded 16-10.
They finished the first half making only 39.6% of their shots (19-48). They were outrebounded 30-16.
Benjamin never got into the Clipper offensive flow in the first half, scoring just four points in 16 minutes. He had five rebounds.
During a timeout late in the half, Maxwell turned to Coach Don Chaney and said: "Let's get Ben in the game."
Woodson, who got a standing ovation when he was introduced before the game, led the Clippers with 12 points in the first half. He made 4 of 13 shots from the floor in the first half. Maxwell and Marques Johnson had 10 apiece.
The Clippers went to their bench and made a brief run, outscoring the Kings 10-2 in the first three minutes of the second quarter to close to within one point (36-35).
Woodson had six points, and Rory White had four points during the Clippers' rally.
But the Kings regained command, outscoring the Clippers 12-1 to take a 48-36 lead with 5:08 left in the half.
Los Angeles closed it back to seven points as Maxwell made a three-point play with two seconds left in the first half.
The Clippers took Benjamin out in the third quarter, and the move seemed to pay off as they outscored the Kings 29-21 to close to 82-81 going into the fourth quarter after Johnson hit a shot with 23 seconds left.
Maxwell made a free throw to tie the score at 82-82 just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter. And Johnson followed with a jumper to give the Clippers an 84-82 lead with 11:02 left.