Knicks 114 Kings 92 | Sacramento
How it happened:
The tone was set early when the Knicks were forced to take the floor without their star big man on Saturday night. Amar’e Stoudemire was sidelined due to a sprained ankle but his rookie replacement, Josh Harrellson, stepped in nicely to score 14 points and grab 12 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks once again in the 22-point victory just before the start of the New Year, not even registering a point until the 2:56 mark of the first quarter. After the Knicks All-Star dropped two free throws however, he began to take over offensively for his squad. Anthony finished with a solid all-around performance, 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.
As mentioned earlier, New York came out firing on all cylinders, especially from the 3-point line where the team drilled 6-of-9 shots behind the arc to start the first quarter and build a 35-20 lead. Harrellson played a pivotal role when Tyson Chandler was dealt his third personal foul with nine minutes left in the first half. At this point, the Knicks owned a 44-22 lead and seemed poised to snatch their first road win of the season.
The offensive flow from the Knicks was much improved and they relied on drive-and-kick basketball for most of their open 3-point opportunities. Toney Douglas and Landry Fields were major factors, hitting timely buckets throughout the first half to strech the Kings defense. Salvaging the final contest of the three-game road trip was exactly what the doctor ordered for this Knicks squad. Not to mention, Stoudemire is day-to-day and will be an added bonus when he returns to the floor to join the offensive chemistry that was discovered tonight in Sacramento.
While Anthony provided the scoring punch as expected, Tyson Chandler brought his swag to Sactown with 22 points and 7 boards in just 24 minutes of game action. The Knicks center fought off early foul trouble and hit all 10 of his free throw attempts. Chandler’s teammates have also seemed to understand his unique style which has helped significantly– finding him on several dives to the rim and putting the 7-footer in perfect position for a high percentage field goal. When the New York coaching staff expressed interest in Chandler they preached the need to involve him in the offense- and that is exactly what was achieved tonight in Sacramento.
Harrellson rose to the occasion in his first NBA start. The former Kentucky big man popped out to the 3-point line draining 4 of his 8 attempts and pounded the glass in Stoudemire’s absence with 12 boards.
The Knicks will head back home Saturday night where they will prepare to face the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden on Monday, January 2.