By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings took the opportunity to build off their first win on Friday night to put victory number two in the book by crushing the New York Knicks 113-92 on Sunday night in the Garden. Teams traveling to the East Coast from the West can sometimes suffer from fatigue and time disorientation in their first game of a road trip. That did not happen on Sunday night.
Fast start in Manhattan
The lead changed hands three times in the first quarter of the game. The third lead change came with 7:51 to go in the period. The Kings took a 10-9 lead off a Harrison Barnes finger-roll layup. Sacramento would never trail again in the game.
The Kings shot 52.2% from the floor in the first quarter and put in 5 of 12 attempts from behind the 3-point arc. When the buzzer sounded after the first 12-minutes were over, Sacramento held a 32-23 lead over the home team.
No let-up in the 2nd quarter
The Kings kept the pressure on the Knicks in the second period by continuing to shoot well and by playing tenacious defense. Sacramento made good on 11 of their 19 Field Goal Attempts (57.9%), hit 3 of 6 (50.0%) from downtown and went a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
The Kings defense held the Knicks to just 28.6% (6-for-21) shooting and limited New York to just 2 of 10 from 3-point range.
The Kings held a 61-41 lead at the half.
What would happen in the third quarter?
The Kings had not outscored an opponent in the third quarter of any of their previous six games. That had led to their demise in every contest except on Friday night versus Utah.
That all changed on Sunday night in NYC. The Kings outscored the Knicks 29-23 and broke the third quarter curse that seemed like it would never go away.
Again, it was a combination of good shooting and a strong defense that did the in the job for the Kings. One example of the defense is the fact New York went 0-for-7 from “downtown” in the period. Sacramento was up 90-64 after 36 minutes of play.
The Knicks didn’t roll over and play dead
Every player in the NBA is a proud professional. They all want to win and every one of them hates to lose. The Knicks tried to make the game competitive in the last period.
Kings head coach Luke Walton had to leave his starters in for over half the quarter because the pesky Knicks would not go away. It was a tremendous “chase-down” block that ended the New York comeback run.
The Kings won their second game of the season 113-92. Sacramento is 2-5 while New York drops to 1-6 on the young campaign.
Kings head coach Luke Walton had a number of thoughts after the win:
- Walton said he told his team this game would set the tone for the road trip.
- He said the key to the victory was the reduced number of turnovers and competition for rebounds. The Kings turned the ball over just 13 times and outrebounded New York 49-39.
- Walton was happy that his team won the 3rd quarter but emphasized the team did not talk about the problem during halftime of the last two games – both victories.
- He also mentioned a sitdown that he and De’Aaron Fox had on the plane just to review video clips and plays. Fox scored a team-high 24 points and dished out six assists in the win. That was some productive coach-player time.
- When asked by a New York reporter about the playoffs, Walton replied that he’s not worried about the playoffs. He said he is interested in getting better every day.
- All of the Kings starting five scored in double figures.
- Richaun Holmes had another double-double game scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds (four off the offensive glass).
- Buddy Hield found the bucket again. He put 22 points in the book shooting 8-for-16 overall and hitting 5 of 11 from long range.
- Harrison Barnes enjoyed his night in the Garden putting up 19 points.
- Nemanja Bjelica recorded 10 points, made eight rebounds and distributed six assists in his 24-minutes on the floor.
- The Knicks were led by Marcus Morris Sr. with a game-high 28 points and rookie RJ Barrett who added 22 points in 40-plus minutes of playing time.
The Kings head up “North” to face the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. The Raptors will be much tougher competition, but the Kings have won in Exposition City before.
The Knicks will also return to action on Wednesday night when they travel to Detroit.