SACRAMENTO KINGS

Kings let 21-point lead slip away as Knicks complete comeback

Apr 4, 2024, 7:21 PM | Updated: 7:37 pm

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 04: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles against Isaiah...

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

At a time when the Sacramento Kings need every win they can get to keep pace in the jam-packed Western Conference race, Thursday’s game in New York was a gut-punch towards their efforts of avoiding the Play-In Tournament.

The Kings jumped out to a 21-point lead during the first half, but from that point on, it was all Knicks as New York erased the deficit and took over late to secure a 120-109 win at Madison Square Garden.

A red-hot start for Sacramento quickly turned into a nightmare once the page turned to the second half, especially the fourth quarter, as the Knicks outscored the Kings 33-22 during the final period.

For Sacramento (44-32), the loss couldn’t have come at a worse time as teams around them either created space or inched closer to the eighth-seed Kings in the Western Conference standings.

With just six games remaining in the regular season, Sacramento holds a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers and a two-game lead over the tenth-seed Golden State Warriors.

Kings vs. Knicks Recap & Takeaways

Entering play on Thursday, Keon Ellis had only knocked down two triples over his past two games–but that didn’t stop him from letting it fly early.

Ellis helped Sacramento set the tone early by drilling three triples over the first five minutes of action as the Kings quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead. Between Ellis and the active De’Aaron Fox (11 points in the first quarter), New York had its hands full with a Sacramento offense that couldn’t seem to miss.

The Kings converted seven of their first ten attempts from beyond the arc during the first quarter to take a 35-20 lead, and they didn’t stop there.

Davion Mitchell, who has stepped up on the offensive end at a perfect time as Sacramento weathers the loss of guards Kevin Huerter (shoulder) and Malik Monk (knee), continued to help the Kings’ offense remain effective in Fox-less minutes. “Off-Night” scored 11 first-half points (five-of-five shooting) while displaying an effective mid-range jumper.

As well as Mitchell and Ellis played early, the first half belonged to Fox in this one, as the speedy guard racked up 16 points (four-of-six from three-point land), four rebounds, and five assists before the halftime break–the most he has scored in a first half since March 6th.

Sacramento hit hard early, but the Knicks struck last before the break, trimming a 21-point deficit to just eight points with plenty of game to go.

New York’s momentum carried into the third quarter as the Kings’ lead was erased before the end of the period, with this game heading into the fourth tied up at 87-87.

After shooting 65 percent from the field during the first half, Sacramento went 10-of-24 (42%) from the floor in the third quarter as the Knicks caught fire–especially from deep (five-of-ten). Those struggles would continue for the Kings in the fourth, and the game would unravel down the stretch.

New York shut down Sacramento’s offense while also mounting a devastating 13-0 run that all but sealed the win, as the Kings could only watch a red-hot Knicks lineup shoot 68 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter.

Sacramento went eight-of-25 (38%) from the field in the fourth, including four-of-15 (26%) from three-point range while being outscored by 11 points.

In total, the Kings shot 37 percent during the second half after shooting 65 percent in the first. When that much of a drop-off occurs, wins follow very rarely.

Instead of attacking the paint when their three-point shooting stalled, Sacramento continued to rely on the long-ball–a trend that has been all too familiar this season. As the Kings continued to struggle to find the bottom of the net, the Knicks made their move.

New York finished the night 12-of-28 from three-point range, with old friend Donte DiVincenzo (five-of-nine) leading the way from deep. All-Star guard Jalen Brunson took over down the stretch (35 points), while Josh Hart scored 31 points on 14-of-19 shooting.

De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 29 points (11-of-26 shooting) while grabbing seven boards, handing out six assists, and swiping three steals, while Domantas Sabonis racked up his 59th consecutive double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists).

Notes

  • New York won the free-throw battle 29 to 12 on Thursday, although both teams shot under 70 percent from the stripe.
  • Sacramento was outscored in the paint 60-40 during the loss.
  • The Knicks ran the break with a purpose, outscoring the Kings 19-9 in fastbreak points.
  • Before tonight’s loss Sacramento held a record of 14-3 when shooting above 42 percent from three.

Injury Updates

Malik Monk (right knee) will be reevaluated in four weeks after suffering a right knee MCL sprain last Friday night vs. Dallas.

Kevin Huerter (left dislocated shoulder and labral tear) will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery and is slated to be ready for the start of the 2024-25 season.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will play the second game of a back-to-back on Friday night against the NBA-best Boston Celtics, who own the best home record in the league (33-3).

Boston (60-16) has already wrapped up the top seed in the Eastern Conference, ensuring home-court advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs as they look to improve to 15-1 against the Kings over their past 16 matchups against Sacramento at TD Garden.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Celtics coverage, beginning at 3:00 PM PST on Game Night before a 4:30 PM PST tip-off from Boston, Massachusetts.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Friday, April 5th – Sacramento Kings @ Boston Celtics – 4:30 PM PST
  • Sunday, April 7th – Sacramento Kings @ Brooklyn Nets – 4:30 PM PST
  • Tuesday, April 9th – Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 5:00 PM PST
  • Thursday, April 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, April 12th – Sacramento Kings vs. Phoenix Suns – 7:00 PM PST

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