The Knicks fell into an unescapable early deficit to the visiting Sacramento Kings on Sunday evening, with little brights spots for a change.
The New York Knicks (1-6) were blown out by the Sacramento Kings (2-5) by a final score of 113-92 on Sunday. Sacramento led for the entire second half, with the Knicks only cutting the Kings’ lead to 18. Rising star point guard De’Aaron Fox finished with 24 points and six assists for Sacramento, while Marcus Morris led the Knicks in scoring with 28 points and chipped in six rebounds and two assists.
It felt like a disaster from the start. With Mitchell Robinson dealing with a sprained left index finger, head coach David Fizdale went for an audible, deciding to move Robinson to the bench for Bobby Portis. The thinking was that Portis’ ability to space the floor would create more opportunities for Julius Randle on offense. That, in fact, did not help.
Sacramento saw the trio of Portis, Julius Randle, and Morris and went to work. Fox had his way with New York’s defense, weaving in and out of the lane for quick flip shots, shuffling New York’s bigs as he got to the lane and forces Frank Ntilikina to overcommit, resulting in an early break with two fouls in the first quarter.
Are Fox goes, the Kings go.
Sactown ended up finishing with 48.2% shooting and more importantly 38.5% shooting from three-point range. Buddy Hield did most of the work beyond the arc, but Sacramento finished with six different players making at least two threes. As the defense broke down, the Kings were able to capitalize with strong outside shooting.
The post players for the Kings was more infuriating for the Knicks. The combination of Richaun Holmes and Nemanja Bjelica did a number on New York’s frontline. Holmes (14 points, 10 rebounds) was a ball of energy, attacking the rim at every chance. Nemanja Bjelica (10 points, six assists) did it more on the passing end, running the offense brilliantly on the weak side.
Let’s go to the notes.
- R.J. Barrett finished with 22 points, five rebounds, and three assists. The rookie was assertive in the third quarter, but the game was out of reach at that point. The bigger concern is the fact he played 41 minutes. Yes, Barrett is 19, but the Knicks have added so much depth that this doesn’t need to happen. The Knicks were down by 18 for much of the second half.
- Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, and Bobby Portis should never play together again. From the outset, Fox saw them as food the second he got into the lane. Morris is fine on the perimeter, but not great. Randle and Portis are poor defenders and with both on the floor, you don’t have a rim protector.
- The Knicks still very much need a point guard. This was the first game where the presence of Elfrid Payton was missed. He’s not great, but he can run the show, dictate who gets the ball where find their spots, and force the bigs to work. As much as I like the Ntilikina-Barrett combination, neither are true point guards, which makes it tough when one of Portis, Randle, or Morris decides to dominate the ball.
- What is David Fizdale doing with this rotation? Ignore the result for just a second; Fizdale isn’t putting this team in position to win. In a game where the Knicks needed defense, he opted for Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier over Damyean Dotson and Taj Gibson, with the former Bull receiving another DNP-CD. If Bobby Portis is going to play just 20 minutes to Robinson’s 24 minutes, why not start the defensive-minded big?
- Continuing from the first rotation question—what’s going on with the foul situation? Ntilikina picks up two fouls, gets taken out, and then plays just 15 minutes. Robinson plays 24 minutes and Gibson—the closest defensive big to Robinson—doesn’t play? I’m not calling for Fizdale’s firing, but I need clarification on a ton of the poor thinking on Fizdale’s part.
The Knicks will travel to Detroit to face the Pistons on Wednesday, November 6th. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. EST.