Porzingis scored 30+ points in his return, and the Knicks ran the Kings out of the building in a nonchalant victory.
The New York Knicks (7-5) welcomed the Sacramento Kings (3-9) to Madison Square Garden for a Veteran’s Day match up of two playoff drought-ridden clubs. The early play of Sacramento, who started up 10-0, and the shot of Kristaps Porzingis (previously missed Wednesday’s contest in Orlando due to elbow pain) falling flat, were way off from the rest of this game. The Knicks, led by Porzingis’ light work of any defender Sacramento sent his way, easily defeated the Kings, 118-91. New York’s starters didn’t need to play in the last period, and the Kings’ rookie-filled roster looked like a hiccup compared to the excellent ball movement and unselfishness of Manhattan’s own.
The only negative, really, on Saturday was more inconsistent play of Tim Hardaway Jr., who couldn’t find the bottom of the basket all night.
On the other hand, Porzingis easily eschewed the Kings and scored 34 points in 27 minutes on 52 percent from the field. KP appeared like a player in his own league, and despite that elbow injury, Porzingis drained threes and flew up for a powerful alley-oop from his French rookie, Frank Ntilikina (five assists, two steals).
Here’s the recap from Saturday’s apparent scrimmage versus the California capital.
KP is back—in a big way
The first quarter was a very weird period, the pace often changing back and forth like a tennis match. Sacramento scored the first ten points of the game, followed by a 8-0 New York run. Porzingis missed his first three shot attempts—and generally looked uncomfortable in his first game back from dual injuries—then made his next three attempts, two of which were three-balls. I’m praying KP’s elbow ailment isn’t anything too serious, as we’ve heard potentially bad things like surgery needed in the 2018 offseason. Despite the physicality posed by KP’s defenders (Zach Randolph and Willy Cauley-Stein mostly), Porzingis’ additional strength propelled him to 24 first half points. He shot 3-of-4 from behind the three-point arc, and made his way to the charity stripe for a total of eight free-throw attempts. The strength part was something definitely not there during his first two seasons, and he was able to hold his own against the wily vet in Randolph and big body of Cauley-Stein.
A slow-mo angle of that perfect Frank to Porzingis alley-oop:
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) November 12, 2017
KP didn’t need much run time in the second half, more pull ups from 14-15 feet out sunk the Kings as the Knicks could find simple buckets shouldered by Porzingis, who enjoyed resting during the fourth quarter. Kristaps was a +34 on the night. He single-handedly embarrassed the Kings.
The sidekicks, minus Hardaway Jr., excel
Tim Hardaway Jr. (2-of-11) had a struggle fest on Saturday after a pretty good game on Wednesday when the team played without Porzingis. Nevertheless, Enes Kanter and Courtney Lee picked up the slack, performing well again and giving the Knicks much need secondary and tertiary scoring efforts. Lee was aggressive from the get-go, and scored 15 points in the first half. Neither Garrett Temple nor rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic could contain the Knicks’ vet. Lee was content with pulling up for a trey (finishing with five of those) or pump fake and drive in the lane, pulling in defenders and freeing up space for perimeter shooters to get off easy looks, like Porzingis who drained four triples. Lee finished with 20 points and three assists.
Enes Kanter was a menace on the glass tonight. The Kings’ big men looked like court jesters compared to Kanter’s adept interior game. Enes toasted his defenders with quality footwork and grabbed New York’s misses, finding easy layups for himself. Kanter ended up with 17 points and 13 boards.
Simply put, it was a clinic, folks
The Knicks scored 90 points through three quarters. George Hill looked off, and the Kings’ offense stalled while their defense looked putrid against the more than capable Knicks offense. New York moved the ball so well and out-performed the Kings on basics, which put them in a position to succeed. The ‘Bockers only had four points via the mid-range shot on Saturday (again, through three quarters since the fourth consisted of garbage time). They had 30 points from threes, 44 points in the paint, and 12 points from the free-throw line. In other words, they were playing Morey Ball.
Porzingis needed not to play in the fourth quarter, so Damyean Dotson and Willy Hernangómez saw some run, and the Knicks scored 100 points before Sactown scored 70. That, in a nutshell, is what you need to know from tonight’s game. The Kings aren’t good, to my count, they have six rookies on their roster. Fox and Justin Jackson could both be definitive NBA players, sure, but as of now this Sacramento team is bad. Anyway, the Knicks easily put the beat down on the Kings, an inferior team. And it’s strange that we can confidently call the Kings a far worse team than the Knicks.
The Knicks cruised to their seventh win of the season, the sixth at home, and had some fun in the fourth as Damyean Dotson (who played last night for Westchester) scored 14 points in 14 minutes. Knicks win, Kristaps is really good, and that’s all you need to know for your Saturday night misadventures. Enjoy your weekend, everybody.