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by Charlie O. Mallonee
“It (the game) had a lot of ugly to it, but it’s a win,” said Kings head coach George Karl after his team beat the New York Knicks 88-80 in Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
In full disclosure, the Knicks played without Carmelo Anthony who was sidelined with a migraine that he experienced during the game in Washington on Saturday. The Knicks are 0-8 this season when “Melo” is not in the line up. Much like the Kings without Cousins, NYK is not the same team when their All-Star player is not on the floor.
The Kings used defense to win this game. This may have the best defensive effort by Sacramento all season. The Kings held the Knicks under 20 points in first, third and fourth quarters. Sacramento did have a major defensive lapse in the second quarter when New York scored 35 points, but unlike other games this season, the Kings were able to regain their defensive footing.
The 88 point effort was the Kings lowest scoring total of the season.
Sacramento did an excellent job defending the 3-point arc allowing NYK to hit on just 4-of-19 3-point attempts. The Kings also limited their own turnovers to just 12 that resulted in just nine points for the Knicks.
The stars on offense were the two starting centers. DeMarcus Cousins and Robin Lopez had 20/20, double-double games. Cousins scored 24 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to go with four assists and two blocked shots. Robin Lopez put up 23 points and hauled in 20 rebounds for New York.
For Cousins, this was his 10th 20/20 game of his career.
The Kings are now 27-42 on the season. The loss drops the Knicks record to 28-43.
Rudy Gay turned in a 17-point performance versus the Knicks. Gay did not have a spectacular night shooting going 8-for-21 from the floor and just 1-for-6 from 3-point land.
Darren Collison had an interesting game. Collison scored 13 points. All of those points came in the first half. He played a game-high 40 minutes and dished out six assists.
Rajon Rondo had a very quiet game scoring just two points and distributing six assists. Rondo did not play with his signature headband on in this game.
Omri Casspi led the scoring off the bench for Sacramento. Casspi scored 15 points hitting on 5-of-9 shots from the field.
As a team, the Kings shot just 39.8-percent (35-for-88) for the game. They converted 7-of-25 3-point attempts. Sacramento was out-rebounded 55-49. The Kings allowed New York to grab 19 offensive rebounds.
Kristaps Porzingis – the Knicks rookie sensation – scored 13 points but struggled shooting from the floor. Porzingis hit on just 6-of-17 shooting and was 0-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Knicks had two strong performances off their bench as Jerian Grant scored 14 points and former King Derrick Williams added 11 points. The New York bench outscored the Kings second unit 35-29.
NYK shot just 35.2-percent (32-for-91) from the field. The Knicks turned the ball over 15 times resulting in 22 points for the Kings.
The Chicago Bulls will play a major role for both teams this week.
The Kings traveled to Chicago after the game and will play the Bulls on Monday night.
The Knicks are off until Wednesday when they will play the Bulls in the Windy City.