NEW YORK – Sacramento looked as if their six game road trip was off to a good start with a win in Brooklyn last Sunday, but when they returned back to the empire state, the result would not be that friendly as the Knicks beat the Kings 106-98.
The Kings came out in the first quarter with more intensity and effort than any game during this road trip but the intensity fell off halfway through the period. A monster first quarter by DeMarcus Cousins (14 points) wasn’t enough to gain the advantage in the period as the Knicks had a 26-21 advantage after one.
Sacramento started the second quarter with a lineup that has been somewhat effective over this road trip in Ty Lawson, Garret Temple, Matt Barnes, Omri Casspi and Kosta Koufos, but that was not the case Sunday night.
Going down by as many as 21 points in the second quarter, the Kings simply could not put the ball in the basket. Whether it was from close range or from deep the ball was not friendly to the Kings resulting in one of their worst collective quarters of the season.
The Kings shot 29 percent in the first half on 14-of-49 shooting. Derrick Rose had one of his best first halves of the season as he scored 14 points by intermission. New York had a 55-41 lead at the half.
Cousins and Gay were locked in during the third quarter, as they were able to miraculously will the Kings back into the game on a 21-2 run. Sacramento was able to get in striking distance at 72-71 but that is the closest they would get for the remainder of the game.
Despite their effort in the third quarter the Kings went into the fourth quarter barring a 82-77 deficit and did not have the gas to pull out the victory.
“Well when you have to come from that amount down, it takes a lot of energy,” said head coach Dave Joerger. “You know, we ran out of legs.”
Cousins added to his league leading technical foul count now with seven after an altercation with Joakim Noah. Cousins finished the game with 36 points making it seven of his last 10 games over the 30-point mark.
Gay and Darren Collison were a great supporting cast, as they combined for 35 points on the night.
Willie Cauley-Stein got a minutes increase playing 23 on the night, scoring nine points on 4-of-7 shooting. A majority of those minutes were played in the fourth quarter.
“I think his versatility and length to be able to have to step out and play Porzingis played better to his traits than to Kosta as much,” said coach Joerger.
The Kings have been able to remain competitive and stay in games during this road trip but the one victory doesn’t do the justice in showing the effort of the group.
Sacramento has yet to come out with a victory trailing after three and the biggest test will come Wednesday night in Dallas to see if the Kings have it in them to complete this woeful road trip with a win.
Dallas right now sits at the bottom of the western conference at 4-15 and a loss on Wednesday night might be a rough start to a tough away-home five game seven-day stretch the Kings have ahead of them.
“Coach tried to take me out at the end of the third with like a minute left. I begged him could I stay in,” Cousins told the Associated Press. “I thought he was going to take me out at the beginning of the fourth but he stayed with me. Just tried to stay aggressive and keep pushing. It was a tough one tonight, but I like our team’s effort. I liked that we kept fighting.”
Tip off is at 5:30 PM PST at the American Airlines Arena in downtown Dallas.