By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
KNICKS 107, KINGS 99 | SLEEP TRAIN ARENA
How it Happened:
Looking to shake off Tuesday's frustrating loss in Los Angeles, the Knicks took care of business with a 107-99 win in Sacramento tonight. They evened their record on the current five-game road trip and because Atlanta lost, moved to within two games of the East's final playoff spot.
The Knicks were determined in the win, especially J.R. Smith (29 points on 19 shots), who was locked in from the opening tip. Smith caught fire in the 1st quarter, connecting on 5-of-6 shots, including 4-of-4 from 3, for 14 points. It was the start of a special night, as he'd go on to make a franchise record-tying nine 3-pointers in the win.
The Knicks took a 63-48 lead into halftime, but Sacramento cut a 24-point lead to six with 9:36 remaining in the game and from there, it was a hard-fought battle to the finish. But unlike last night, as the Kings fought back, Smith and the Knicks had answers.
Coming out of the timeout at the 9:36 mark, Smith nailed a 3. Carmelo Anthony, who scored eight of his 36 points in the 4th quarter, drained a jumper on the next possession. A few possessions later, another Smith 3, followed by another Melo jumper. The Kings would get as close as two points (with 4:30 left in the game), but none other than Smith answered right back with another 3.
It was an important win and a team effort for the Knicks. Adding support to the Melo and Smith Show were: Raymond Felton (10 assists and seven rebounds); Tyson Chandler (10 points and eight rebounds) and Amar'e Stoudemire (12 points and six boards).
Knick of the Night:
J.R. Smith. His masterful long range performance was the key to the win. The Knicks needed someone to step up knock down shots, and by doing that, Smith breathed new life into New York's playoff push.
A tough matchup in Phoenix looms for the Knicks on Saturday against the Suns, who feature one of the best backcourts in the league.