Fortunately for the Knicks they didn’t have to sit around for a day or two reliving the abomination that took place at the Staples Center. The particulars need not be rehashed and to a man the players all were saying the same thing. They had to put the Laker game behind them so that the team could focus on the task at hand, which was getting a win against the Sacramento Kings.
JR Smith like many of the other Knicks was not happy with the effort and overall performance of the night before and it showed. Right from the beginning of the game was assertive not only offensively but also on the defensive end. During one stretch in the 1st quarter, Smith would block a Ray McCollum shot at the rim which led to a fast break that Smith himself would finish, hitting a wide open, three pointer.
With New York in need of scoring and Carmelo Anthony not necessarily looking for his offense, it was Smith who was intent on not allowing a repeat performance. Smith would total 14 points in the game’s first 12 minutes, including four makes from long range. New York still had plenty of work to do on the defensive end as the gifted DeMarcus Cousins was having his way both down low and on the perimeter.
Anthony would get things going early on in the 2nd and that seemed to ignite the Knicks. Case in point, New York had 4 players hit double figures in the first half alone and when Smith hit his 5th, three of the half to put NY up by 18 points. Now, the key would be whether New York would come out for the second half with the same intensity.
While not many baskets were being scored by either team, Anthony made the most of the ones that were going in as three of those makes were of the three point variety which swelled the Knicks lead to a game high 24 points. Then Amar’e Stoudemire was inexplicably hit with a technical foul for demonstratively arguing a foul call which began a quick 10-0 run for the Kings anchored by Cousins.
Sacramento would methodically chip into the Knicks lead and one had to wonder if thoughts of the last few games began to creep into NY’s fragile state of mind after nearly blowing a big lead against Philadelphia and then seeing Jarret Jack and the Cavs overcome a double digit, 2nd half deficit. On this night though, New York would have their answer in the form of JR Smith. He hit a three with 1 second remaining in the 3rd to up the Knicks lead back to 14.
Sacramento then went on an 8-0 but there was Smith again immediately knocking down another trifecta to slow the Kings momentum. This would become the theme for the rest of the game as Smith knocked down three’s with the Knicks leading 91-87 & 96-94. The ladder of which was Smith’s 9th, triple of the game, tying the Knicks record for three pointers made in a game.
The Kings bid for a comeback would fall short on the efforts of Anthony (36pts) but especially Smith with his timely buckets when it looked like the Kings were on the cusp of coming all the way back. It was a huge gut check for NY who couldn’t afford to lose another game let alone another of the devastating variety. With the win and a loss earlier by the Atlanta Hawks, New York now sits just 2 games back of the final playoff spot.
Knicks 107 Kings 99
Smith & Anthony combined to shoot 14-20 from behind the arc.
NY outscored Sacramento on the break 18-2
DeMarcus Cousins nearly had a triple double – 32pts 15rbs 8ast
Wilson Caicedo: PureSportsNY