The Sacramento Kings made a valiant attempt at a comeback, but fell short against the New York Knicks, losing 107-99. After trailing by double digits most of the game, the Kings found a spark in the fourth quarter, but they could never cut the Knicks' lead to less than four.
The Kings were without Isaiah Thomas, who rested a quad bruise suffered against the Milwaukee Bucks. Ray McCallum got his first career start, with mixed results. Nerves were likely a factor, but McCallum was simply dreadful to start the game. As the night went on he settled in, though, and played really well in the fourth. While it would obviously be preferable to see McCallum step into the starting role with no issues, I was encouraged by the way he played through his struggles. I've been really impressed with his growth this season.
DeMarcus Cousins was huge for the Kings. Cousins finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists. It was Cousins second straight game scoring more than 30. The night also marked Cousins' 45th double-double of the season. Cousins had 35 double-doubles all of last season.
Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony battled each other all night long, with Carmelo coming out on the winning end of the match-up. Despite some big plays down the stretch, Rudy was held to 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists. A lot of that is due to some stellar defense by Carmelo, who doesn't tend to get much credit as a defender. Carmelo finished with 36 points, five rebounds and two assists.
The Kings comeback effort fell short for a number of reasons, but J.R. Smith was one of the biggest. Smith finished with 29 points, and was 9-12 from beyond the arc. The Kings remain bad at defending three point shooters.
This is a disappointing loss for the Kings. New York has really been struggling, and was on the second night of a road back-to-back, having been absolutely embarrassed by the Lakers the night before. The Kings had a chance to win this, but dug themselves too deep of a hole early on. But it was encouraging to see this team never quit. The Kings demonstrated a sustained effort, even when down by more than 20. The Kings kept grinding, and made a game of it. Considering they were without one of their big three, it was a really entertaining game down the stretch.
I give the credit to Michael Malone for that effort. In his post game press conference he had a great quote on what he said to Ray McCallum to encourage him. Malone told McCallum "if you're going to make a mistake, make it an aggressive mistake." I love that mentality, that it's OK to make mistakes but it's not OK to be timid or indecisive. It reflects in the team's play as of late.
For the opponent's perspective, be sure to visit the always-delightful Posting and Toasting.