The Kings finally held an opponent under 120 Wednesday. This time, they kept their opposition in double digits, and they earned their first win in five games, beating the New York Knicks 104-93.
Six players scored in double figures for Sacramento, led by De’Aaron Fox with 22. But the real story of the game was the Kings finally putting the clamps on the other team. Sacramento had a season-high 14 blocks — 10 coming from the duo of Richaun Holmes and Tyrese Haliburton — as well as six steals, and the Kings scored 15 fast-break points compared to zero for the Knicks.
The starters had good energy through most of the first shift. Fox was cooking early with 10 points and two assists as he played all 12 minutes of the first period. His speed was giving the Knicks fits in the halfcourt.
Tyrese Haliburton carried the mantle for Fox when the second units came in, but the rest of the bench lineup struggled in the first half. Cory Joseph and Glenn Robinson III both missed all of their shots from the field, and Chimezie Metu picked up three quick fouls. Fortunately, Haliburton had arguably his best half as a pro. The rookie had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting along with four rebounds. Haliburton also made some highlight plays starting with his defensive effort.
An important development in the first half was Harrison Barnes rediscovering his touch on offense. He chipped in 11 rebounds and four assists, both figures above his per-game averages for the last four contests.
The Kings also limited the Knicks to 39.6 percent shooting from the field in the first half, but 11 offensive rebounds helped give New York a five-point halftime lead.
Normally, heading into halftime with a deficit would be a recipe for disaster. And for the first few possessions, it seemed like the Kings just couldn’t string together enough stops and scores to make up the deficit. But Buddy Hield was the one to finally turn the tide for Sacramento. He deflected the ball, leading to a Barnes end-to-end fast-break layup. Then on the ensuing possession, Hield hit a deep three to give the Kings their first lead, an advantage they would keep for the remainder of the third quarter.
Good defense leads to an easy HB bucket pic.twitter.com/l06bjJ6imQ— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 23, 2021
The second stint for the bench unit proved much more productive than the first. Joseph and Robinson hit some threes, and Metu absolutely erased Obi Toppin at the rim on another play.
The lead got a bit precarious when the starters came back in, ironically, but the Kings made just enough plays to stay ahead, and Haliburton hit a 3-pointer with 2:35 to play to put Sacramento up nine and all but seal the game. The 3-point line figured to be an advantage for the Kings heading into the night, and they ended up outscoring the Knicks by 21 from distance.
The Kings needed this win heading into a break in the schedule. Now, they have five days off until facing the Magic Wednesday.