SACRAMENTO -- No. 23 went up with the game on the line, pump-faked to perfection and drew his defender in the air.
There was heavy contact, but there was no whistle, his team's best chance at tying the game passing by in the final seconds of a loss.
The only problem for the Kings? It was their No. 23 -- that being Kevin Martin -- who couldn't get the call, while Cleveland and the more-heralded player by the same number -- that being Cleveland's LeBron James -- escaped Arco Arena on Friday night with a 93-91 win.
Martin missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer as well, with James defending him tight after Cavs forward Drew Gooden fell for Martin's fake on the previous attempt with seven seconds left.
"They had been calling that type of foul the whole game and it's unfortunate," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "If it had been probably LeBron, then probably that call is made. I don't know. It's a tough scenario. It's unfortunate. I think when they look at the replay, they're going to see it the same way we saw it."
Martin wasn't so candid, perhaps knowing that he would likely be fined if he truly spoke his mind.
"We tried to get a shot off at the end, tried to make it but we didn't," said Martin, who answered the question of whether he thought he was fouled by saying "no" with an ear-to-ear smile.
"My smile (means) that I'm ready to come out here and play (tonight). We did everything we were supposed to do to win the game."
In all, the Kings couldn't close out what was by far their most competitive and consistent outing yet. There was no first-half debacle this time, and a cohesive defensive unit held Cleveland to 38 percent shooting and held James in check until the end.
Martin had a game-high 32 points against his fellow Ohio native, with most of his production coming from the foul line -- he hit 17 of 18 free throws. James, whose defending Eastern Conference champion team was playing its third game in four nights and the fourth on a six-game road trip, scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and awoke just in time to even his squad's record at 3-3.
James broke an 86-86 tie in thunderous fashion with 1:50 remaining. After a missed jumper from Brad Miller, James corralled the ball and took his trademark giant strides to the hoop, soaring high above the rim for a dunk that gave the Cavaliers a lead they never gave back. He followed with a 15-foot bank shot, then converted a driving layup and the subsequent free throw for a 93-88 Cavaliers lead with 53 seconds remaining.
Kings swingman John Salmons had his own three-point play with 39 seconds left, then altered a driving attempt from Damon Jones to give Martin and the Kings their final possession.