NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — De’Aaron Fox had 30 points and eight assists, carrying the Sacramento Kings down the stretch to a 102-94 victory over the New York Knicks on Saturday in the opener of a four-game trip.
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Buddy Hield added 19 points for the Kings, who need a strong performance during their trip to the East after entering play four games behind San Antonio for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Dennis Smith Jr. scored 18 points for the Knicks, who have lost five straight, a stretch that included a 0-3 trip to the West that featured a 115-108 loss in Sacramento on Monday.
It was tied at 68 with under 3 ½ minutes remaining in the third before Hield scored five straight points to start a 12-0 run to finish the period. Fox had four points during it, including a driving layup to cap it and make it 80-68 heading to the fourth.
New York rallied to an 89-87 lead midway through the fourth after Luke Kornet’s 3-pointer capped an 11-0 burst, but Fox made five of Sacramento’s final six baskets, including a pair of three-point plays.
The noon local start was a challenge for both teams, with Sacramento coach Dave Joerger noting that meant 9 a.m. back home for his players, and the Knicks just coming back from their trip to the West. He rubbed his eyes before the game to demonstrate that it could be two tired teams on the floor.
The Knicks had the energy early, racing to leads of 7-0 and 24-9. Sacramento cut it to 30-23 by the end of the first quarter, then limited New York to 16 points in the second to grab a 48-46 edge at the half.
Tanking or not, New York’s road to the league’s worst record is starting to get some breathing room. Now 13-53, the Knicks have a two-game “lead” over Phoenix and they’re now three games worse than Cleveland.
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New York goes right back on the road for three games in the Midwest, starting Sunday at Minnesota. Coach David Fizdale said G Frank Ntilikina (sore groin) had intensified his workouts but still hadn’t progressed to the point of taking contact in practice. F Noah Vonleh missed the game with a bruised right hip.
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Fizdale said a challenge for a Knicks team with nine players whose contracts will be expiring is getting them to concern themselves with only team success and not their own statistics.
“To get all of those guys to say, ‘Hey, team first’ every play, every time is part of that trust building you have to have,” he said.
While he praised the players for how they’ve handled it, he did say the trust issues could help explain the Knicks’ league-low average of 19.9 assists per game.
“That definitely creeps in,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s necessarily guys are just, ‘I’m going to get mine.’ I just think it’s like when things get tight, a team really gets into us, I think it’s more guys saying, ‘Hey, I’m capable of doing this and I’m going to show it,’ and a lot of times that gets us to where we start holding the ball and taking tough shots.”
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(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)