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Knicks 140, Kings 121: Scenes from a bench onslaught

Burks, Quickley and Ntilikina (???) led the bench to the win.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New York Knicks POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Drink this one in, Knicks fans. The Sacramento Kings are a very bad team, but they defeated the Knicks the last time they played. This time, however, the Knicks bench overwhelmed Sacramento in both halves en route to a 140-121 victory.

It wasn’t quite as easy as it looked, however. The starters were not crisp in the third quarter — which seems to be a recurring theme over the past few weeks — and the Kings cut an 18-point lead down to seven. The bench was carried by Immanuel Quickley (25 points) in the first half, but the fourth quarter was Alec Burks’ time to shine. Burks scored 19 of his 24 points in the fourth, including a barrage of triples that pushed New York’s lead back to 20.

Many of the threes were vintage Burks: some off-the-dribble chucking that absolutely crushes the opponent’s soul when it keeps going in.

If Burks was the late-game hero, and IQ was the first-half stud, the biggest surprise of the night was the return of Frank Ntilikina. Derrick Rose took over for the injured Elfrid Payton in the starting lineup, and Tom Thibodeau chose to put Frank in with Quickley and Burks, much to the surprise and delight of Frank nation.

The end result was vintage Frank: 7 points, 2 assists, 3 steals and a plus-17 in a shocking 23 minutes, his first playing time since December.

With the trade deadline looming, this might have been Frank’s last performance at MSG. If so, it was one hell of a goodbye.

Recap to come.