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Knicks 103, Kings 100: ‘The Knicks really tried to take me out’

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That was close...

NBA: New York Knicks at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

There are some games that are perhaps better viewed the morning after. If you’re waking up to discover that the New York Knicks triumphed in a taut, 103-100 win over the Kings in Sacramento, don’t feel bad for missing out. Those of us who saw the game live lost years off our lives when Carmelo Anthony missed two potential game-sealing free throws, followed by a desperation heave from DeMarcus Cousins which bounced off the front of the rim. As P&T’er eomede07 lamented, the Knicks seemed like they were trying to kill us.

That isn’t to say that this was an uninspiring win for the ‘Bockers — far from it, in fact. Friday’s victory was far more inspiring than their home win over Sacramento five days earlier, when they casually let a reeling Kings team back into the game after jumping out to a huge lead. West Coast road wins are always something to be cherished, especially while playing short-handed. The Kings and Knicks traded body blows for 48 minutes, and New York pulled it out because they were the more composed team...at least during the 39 minutes when they weren’t using Sasha Vujacic as their point guard. It was a damn fine win...just terrifying.

  • This was one of those vintage “WILL NOT BE DENIED” games from Carmelo Anthony. He didn’t shoot it particularly well — 9-22 from the field, 3-10 from three — but he more than made up for it by going 12-12 at the free throw line. (We’ll just pretend those final two free throw attempts didn’t happen, shall we?) Melo was in complete control of the offense on a night when starting point guard Derrick Rose was out with a back injury. He also played some pretty good defense on Rudy Gay, who was just God-awful.
  • If you ever felt like freebasing the Brandon Jennings Experience, this was certainly the night to do so. The Knicks’ one and only point guard on this evening played a game-high 38 minutes, chipping in 13 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. He had 4 turnovers, including two of the worst passes I’ve ever seen in professional basketball on back-to-back possessions, just as New York had taken its biggest lead of the night. He hit 3 of 4 free throws, including a couple of massive ones at the end of the game. This was the one free throw he missed...

Sometimes a couple teaspoons of Brandon Jennings will cure what ails ya...just make sure you don’t drive or use heavy machinery for at least eight hours afterward.

Oh, and to cap things off...

  • I have been accused of caring more about Kristaps Porzingis getting numbers than the Knicks winning ballgames. That is technically false — I care more about Kristaps developing into the generational superstar we all know he can be than I do about the Knicks winning ballgames. I will admit that, even in victory, it pains me a bit to see shooting lines like the one he put up on Friday: 6-19 from the floor, 1-5 from three. Kristaps is now shooting 31.6% over his last five games, which absolutely breaks my heart. But I am thrilled to see the Unicorn contribute to wins when his shot isn’t working, which he certainly did on Friday. His overall line of 17 points and 10 rebounds is nothing to sneeze at, and he did some fine work on the defensive end.
  • ...but seriously, Kristaps, please start hitting shots again.
  • You can hack deze nuts, Sacramento! The Kings intentionally fouled Joakim Noah with a shade under two minutes remaining — Kosta Koufos basically tickled Noah’s sides until the ref finally blew his whistle — and Noah responded by draining both free throws. It was the capper to a very Noah-esque evening of frustrating the hell out of Cousins, who couldn’t buy a bucket in his two games against the Knicks:
  • Yeah, Boogie got his free throws. Whatever. I’ll take it.
  • Jeff Hornacek has shortened his rotation of late, with only two bench players getting at least 10 minutes worth of playing time. Those bench players made an impact in their brief cameos, however, with Kyle O’Quinn grabbing 11 rebounds and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Lance Thomas and Justin Holiday hitting clutch buckets at the end of quarters.
  • No, Sasha Vujacic is not an NBA point guard. The Knicks damn near blew this game in the nine minutes he was on the court, as the Machine turned the ball over 3 times and got hit with 4 fouls. Hmm...if only someone could have predicted that the team could use a third point guard.
  • Willy Hernangomez got his first DNP-CD since the sixth game of the season. I know Noah and O’Quinn are playing well, but that still wounds my soul. Free Willy!

And so the Knicks — winners of three road games in a row!!! — kicked off this critical five-game Western Conference swing with a bang. If they can knock off the Lakers on Sunday they’ll be well on their way to an immensely satisfying road trip.