Knicks look to begin new win streak vs. surging Kings
The season-best nine-game winning streak put together by the New York Knicks was torpedoed by one of the worst teams in the NBA.
The Knicks aim to start a new stretch of success on Thursday night when they visit the Sacramento Kings, easily the biggest surprise team in the league.
New York beat the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets twice during the streak and also defeated the Miami Heat before seeing the run end Tuesday with a 112-105 home loss to the lowly Charlotte Hornets, the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks led by 16 points at halftime but suddenly ran out of steam and got outscored 62-39 in the second half.
“We just ran out of gas, that’s all,” All-Star forward Julius Randle said. “We gotta be better and take care of business. We gotta take care of business, regardless.”
The setback marked the first defeat for New York since acquiring guard Josh Hart from the Portland Trail Blazers four weeks ago.
“I think we didn’t play our style of basketball. We didn’t play winning basketball,” Hart said after dropping to 9-1 with the Knicks. “We gotta make sure we’re full of energy and lively every time we step on the court. … I don’t think we can blame this on fatigue. But we have to continue to grow and play winning basketball.”
Standout point guard Jalen Brunson (left foot) has missed the last two games but did travel to Sacramento for the start of a four-game western swing. It isn’t yet known if he will be available against the Kings.
Immanuel Quickley started the past two games in place of Brunson for New York. He scored a career-best 38 points in a 131-129 double-overtime road win over the Celtics on Sunday but dropped down to 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting against the Hornets.
The Knicks will try to bounce back against the Kings, who have won six of their past seven games to move into a tie for second place with the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference.
Sacramento’s lofty status is unforeseen territory for a franchise that has missed the playoffs in each of the previous 16 seasons. In fact, the Kings (38-26) can equal their most victories during their long drought by beating New York.
The last time Sacramento even had a winning season was the 2005-06 campaign, the same season of its last playoff appearance.
Ending the drought is at the forefront of the Kings’ minds.
“We want to play our first (playoff) game at home,” Kings rookie forward Keegan Murray said. “It’s not easy, we know we have a lot of tough stretches coming up. … We know we have to be locked in every single night.”
Sacramento is coming off Monday’s 123-108 home win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Domantas Sabonis recorded his eighth triple-double of the season while increasing his league-best double-double count to 52 with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
Also standing out was Kevin Huerter, who had 25 points and is averaging 24 in the first three games on a four-game homestand. Huerter made six treys in each of the past two games and is 15 of 23 (65.2 percent) from beyond the arc during the three-game stretch.
Huerter shot just 29.2 percent from 3-point range in February.
“He has to be able to impact the game with his shooting, but what I like just as much as his shooting (Monday), he had eight assists,” Sacramento coach Mike Brown said. “On top of that, I challenged him. I challenged him to go get some rebounds and he came up with five rebounds.”
The Kings expect to have All-Star point guard De’Aaron Fox (hamstring) back for the contest after a one-game absence.
–Field Level Media