A 12 p.m start time in the East Coast isn’t going to benefit a team in the mindset of a 9 a.m. time zone and that’s the way it was looking early. The Kings opened the first quarter trailing by 15 and you have to wonder when will they find their wheels against the team with the worst record. It only took them until the second quarter to get back into the game and the game was close the rest of the way. Then De’Aaron Fox completely took over late in the fourth and the Kings move back into the win column.
The first quarter started off terribly for Sacramento as they couldn’t buy a shot and the Knicks eventually took a 15 point lead. De’Aaron Fox hit two threes en route to a nine point quarter but Dennis Smith Jr. did him one better and scored 11 points with two three pointers. DeAndre Jordan had seven points and five rebounds. Buddy Hield’s only points came on a one-handed putback dunk. He was 0-7 on jump shots, including 0-4 from deep. Bogdan Bogdanovic shot 0-3. Nemanja Bjelica however scored eight points off the bench and grabbed four rebounds to provide a spark. The Kings ended the quarter trailing 30-23.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Kings came back and took the lead late in the second quarter and went into the half with the lead at 48-46. They had a chance for a basket in the final seconds but Fox stumbled and lost it. Fortunately for Sacramento, Knicks rookie Kevin Knox missed his attempt at the buzzer. The Kings outscored the Knicks 25-16 in the quarter as well. Fox led Sacramento with 13 points on 4-8 shooting, three rebounds and two assists. Bjelica remained at eight points while Harrison Barnes and Willie Cauley-Stein added seven points each. Hield was still an awful 2-12 shooting and 0-5 from deep for four points. Sacramento shot 16-50 (32%) in the first half. Smith Jr. led the Knicks in points at 11 despite not scoring in the second quarter. The Knicks were shooting 19-50 (39%) from the field.
The Kings went on a 12-0 run to go from 68-68 to 80-68 to end the third quarter. Hield finally saw a jumper go in and he started to get hot from there. He made four straight three pointers and a two point jumper before finally missing a stepback corner three. It was a heat check shot that would’ve been amazing if it fell. Hield ended the quarter with 18 points and Fox also went up to 18 points with some tough finishes at the rim. Bogdanovic also knocked down a pair of threes. Jordan led the Knicks with 14 points.
New York opened the fourth quarter on a 16-7 run, wiping away the 12 point deficit they faced to end the third. The Knicks actually took the lead 90-89 with five minutes to play but the Kings ended the game on a 13-4 run led by Fox to seal the deal in Madison Square Garden. Both games against the Knicks were much closer than expected but it’s a good start to the East Coast road trip nonetheless. Kings move up to 33-32.
De’Aaron Fox had a great game from the start. He was active on offense in the first knocking down two threes and then when the team needed him to take over in the fourth, he did. Creating contact, getting and-1 opportunities, Fox did it all. He finished the game with 30 points on 11-17 shooting along with five rebounds, eight assists and a steal.
Nemanja Bjelica was absolutely huge off the bench. He provided an energy spark when he came off the bench and every time he would come back into the game, the Kings played better. He finished the game with 13 points on 5-13 shooting, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
Buddy Hield got some momentum going in the third quarter and the Kings really needed him to come alive. He finished the game with 19 points on 7-22 shooting and 4-13 from three, along with four rebounds, two assists and a block.
Willie Money Watch
Willie had mistakes like missing a lob and not providing the help on defense, but finished the game with seven points on 3-7 shooting, 12 rebounds and an assist in 29 minutes.
Harrison Barnes finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Harry Giles had a rough game shooting 2-11 but did grab five rebounds.
Sacramento won despite shooting 36-95 from the field (38%). However, they were an efficient 18-22 from the line, good for 82%.
New York won the rebound battle 58-53 and each team had 16 assists.
The Kings only turned it over seven times, resulting in four points for the Knicks. That’s solid.
Knicks won the points in the paint battle at 46-36.
The Kings will play the Washington Wizards for the final time this year on Monday at 4:00 p.m. (PST).