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Game Preview: Knicks at Kings- 03/07/22

In Sac for the second of a back-to-back, on the heels of a glorious win.

New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Take a moment. Last night, the New York Knicks (26-38) beat the Los Angeles Clippers 116-93 for their first win since February 10, and they did so by playing the kids.

Did Tom Thibodeau sit the vets during the fourth quarter to save their strength for tonight’s game? Or did he realize that the line-up of RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Cam Reddish, Deuce McBride, and Jericho Sims was both aesthetically and statistically better? I hope the latter is true, but I fretted throughout the early fourth, certain that Thibs could not resist his veteran fetish.

Miraculously, he did not indulge. After almost a month of losing, we can suckle the sweet nectar of victory again. Hallelujah.

Tonight, on the second game of a back-to-back, the Knicks trek up the coast to face the Sacramento Kings (24-42). The Knicks won their last meeting 116-96. Alec Burks and Tyrese Haliburton both scored 21 for their respective clubs.

Sacramento is 13th in the West, 4-6 over their last 10 games, and rank 22nd on offense and 28th on defense. They are fast, however, led by point guard De’Aaron Fox, who is also their top scorer.

Before last night, the Knicks had dropped seven in a row, their longest losing streak of the season. But New York should have won in Phoenix, built (and lost) significant leads in most recent games, and never let the Clippers get ahead. They are better than the Kings, right?

You betcha! Tip-off’s at 10:30 p.m. EST, lords and ladies.

PROJECTED STARTERS

De’Aaron Fox (6’3”, 185 lbs) is the team leader in points (22.5), field goal attempts (18), and minutes per game (34.9). His six assists per game rates second only to Domantas Sabonis. The 24-year old Fox, a terrible defender, will square off against Burks, who shot 4-for-8 from downtown and finished with 15 points last night.

Playing his ninth year in the Association, Justin Holiday (6’6”, 180 lbs) is still a fairly new arrival, having been traded from Indiana at the deadline. The 32-year old Washington alum has averaged 10.7 points and 2.7 boards. He’s a poor defender, just like Evan Fournier, the Knicks’ starting two guard. Evan tallied seven points in 29 minutes and also had a case of bench-butt in Q4 yesterday.

In Harrison Barnes’s (6’8”, 225 lbs) 10th NBA campaign, the former Tarheel has averaged 17.2 points and six rebounds. He’s shooting 47% from the floor and 42% from deep on 4.7 attempts. I’ve always thought the 29-year old sounds like a personal injury lawyer. “Call Harrison Barnes when you’ve been harmed.” That’s a billboard.

Barnes is a quality dude but another highly mediocre defender. Look for RJ Barrett (24/9/4 last night) to terrorize and tenderize the attorney. Q for the comments: How many more games will it take for RJ to become the Knicks’ top scorer? NBA.com lists him at 19 ppg this morning.

Trey Lyles (6’9”, 234 lbs) has averaged 10 points and 4.6 boards for Sacramento this year. The 26-year old will face fellow former Wildcat, Julius Randle, who sat out the fourth quarter last night and finished 10/8/4. Currently, he’s averaging 19.6 ppg. RJ is coming on strong!

Gonzaga’s own Domantas Sabonis (6’11”, 240 lbs) ranks third in the league for rebounds per game (12.2). Since becoming a King, he has averaged 17.2 points, 12.8 boards, and six dishes in 32 minutes per game. In his sixth year, the two-time All-Star is shooting 58% from the field and 31% from the perimeter on 2.1 attempts. He’ll jump against Mitchell Robinson, coming off a second consecutive stellar performance of 12 points, 11 boards, two blocks, one steal, and zero(!) fouls in 26 minutes last night. Advantage: Mitch.

PREDICTION

ESPN.com gives the Kings a 65% chance. Nope. Two in a row, baby. The Knicks will win this one by a dozen. (Although I won’t know the outcome until the morning because I’m old and 10:30 is late.)

Golden 1 Center. Monday. 10:30 p.m. EST. Off with their heads, Knickerbockers!