Brunson, Knicks outlast Kings 98-91 in gritty showdown

Mar 16, 2024, 10:10 PM | Updated: Mar 18, 2024, 9:48 am

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Saturday’s matchup was another reminder that the Sacramento Kings will go as far as their offense takes them.

In a game that featured plenty of physical play, the Kings fell short against the New York Knicks as Sacramento dropped a 98-91 loss in front of a sold-out crowd at Golden 1 Center.

Following two impressive wins over Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers that saw the Kings score 124.5 points per game on 52 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent from three-point range, Sacramento’s offense fell flat against a Knicks team that entered play with the eighth-best defensive rating in the NBA.

All-Star guard Jalen Brunson torched the Kings for 42 points (17-of-28 shooting) during the win as Sacramento failed to slow down the high-scoring veteran.

With the loss, the Kings (38-28) fell out of the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. With 16 games to go, Sacramento will look to jump out of Play-In territory and solidify itself in the playoff picture.

Kings vs. Knicks Recap & Takeaways

The New York Knicks own a top-ten defense in the NBA this season, including a top-five paint defense, but that didn’t deter Domantas Sabonis from going at the basket early.

As both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net from three-point range early, the Kings ran their offense through Sabonis (13 points on six-of-eight shooting from the field in the first), who had the hot hand during a low-scoring opening period.

Sabonis scored 13 of Sacramento’s 22 first-quarter points while the rest of the Kings’ offense struggled to a two-for-12 (16%) start from the field.

The struggles from three-point land would carry over into the second quarter, as Sacramento entered the break having shot five-of-18 (27%) from deep over the first 24 minutes of play. On the other end of the floor, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (21 first-half points) caught fire from three as New York took a 53-48 lead into the break.

Outside of Sabonis’ eight-for-11 shooting, the rest of the Kings’ lineup shot eight-of-30 (26%) from the field during the first half–a trend that has typically resulted in losing efforts for Sacramento this season.

Brunson and New York continued to apply pressure to the Kings early in the second half by pushing their lead to nine, but Sacramento locked in on the defensive end and hit back before things snowballed.

After falling behind 57-48 with 10:21 to go in the third, the Kings ended the quarter on a 26-18 run to trim the Knicks’ lead to one heading into the fourth. New York matched its largest lead of the night by taking a 91-82 lead with four minutes remaining and never looked back, as Sacramento could not create consistent offense throughout Saturday’s action.

The Kings had solid stretches of offense that helped keep things close, but they fell ice cold in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points on six-of-26 (23%) shooting from the floor as Brunson and the Knicks maintained a two-possession lead down the final stretch.

Sacramento didn’t score over the final 2:30 of action, missing all five of their field goal attempts as the game slipped away.

In a game that featured several instances of excessive contact and missed calls, it’s hard to say officiating played a role when the Kings held an advantage at the free-throw line (26 attempts to New York’s 16). It was a gritty, physical game, and Sacramento’s offense didn’t have it on Saturday night.

The Kings finished the game with 91 points—their second-lowest-scoring game of the season—on 35 percent shooting from the field (their second-lowest mark this year) and 27 percent from beyond the arc.

“I feel like a lot of it, we just didn’t make shots,” De’Aaron Fox said when asked what went wrong against the Knicks. “That’s a good defensive team, and you have to be able to capitalize on their mistakes, and I don’t think we did that tonight.”

In games that Sacramento has struggled on offense, losses usually follow:

  • Scoring under 100 points: 0-8
  • Shooting under 45% FG: 2-15
  • Shooting under 35% 3PT: 8-19

“I thought we did enough defensively tonight, but we just didn’t spray the ball tonight,” head coach Mike Brown said of his team’s failure to move the ball around the perimeter.

Following the loss, Sacramento holds a 3-2 record during this season-long six-game homestand, but the schedule will soften up this week as the Kings’ next three opponents hold winnings percentages under the .400 mark.

In a Western Conference playoff race that continues to get more intense with each passing game, this is Sacramento’s opportunity to make up some ground in the standings.

The Kings hold a 16-7 (.695) record against sub-.500 teams, meaning that the upcoming slate of games against the Memphis Grizzlies (23-45), Toronto Raptors (23-44), and Washington Wizards (11-56) could arrive at a much-needed time for Sacramento.

Stats & Notes

Domantas Sabonis finished the loss with 21 points (9/16 FG) and 14 rebounds, extending his double-double streak to 49 games.

The Kings finished with 22 assists on Saturday, their lowest mark in 12 games (February 14th). Sacramento is 15-22 when finishing games with less than 30 assists.

De’Aaron Fox struggled during the losing effort: 20 PTS | 5/19 FG (26%)

Injury Updates

Following Friday’s practice, the Kings announced that forward Trey Lyles has suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. With Lyles out, Sacramento will likely lean on Chris Duarte, Keon Ellis, and Kessler Edwards until the 28-year-old can return.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will conclude its six-game homestand on Monday when they look to complete a regular season sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies at Golden 1 Center.

The Kings have won both matchups against the Grizzlies at FedEx Forum this season, with January 29th’s 103-94 win being the most recent meeting between the two Western Conference foes.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Grizzlies coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

YouTube video

Upcoming Schedule

  • Monday, March 18th – Sacramento Kings vs. Memphis Grizzlies – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, March 20th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 4:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, March 21st – Sacramento Kings @ Washington Wizards – 4:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, March 23rd – Sacramento Kings @ Orlando Magic – 4:00 PM PST
  • Monday, March 25th – Sacramento Kings vs. Philadelphia 76ers – 7:00 PM PST

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Brunson, Knicks outlast Kings 98-91 in gritty showdown