KNICKS 120 KINGS 81 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
On Groundhog Day, the Knicks ended a constant theme that has plagued them over the past couple of weeks. While New York has managed to close strong after slow starts, head coach Mike Woodson certainly wanted to end the trend like Billy Murray’s character in the famous film.
After trailing 18-6 in the first quarter and a 1-for-13 start from the floor, the offensive flood gates opened wide as the home team outscored the Kings 19-0 in the first 5 minutes of the second period and rolled on a ridiculous 40-4 run to take a 20-point lead.
New York never looked back in an impressive 120-81 victory on Saturday night. The key to the Knicks success was a heavy dose of the inside-out game to free up the shooters on the perimeter. Led by J.R. Smith’s 25 points on 7-of-14 shooting from long distance, the bench crew demolished the Kings at MSG. Amar’e Stoudemire delivered another efficient and effective performance off the pine with 21 points while hitting 10-of-10 field goals. Steve Novak was also a major part of the party with five 3-pointers and 15 points in 17 minutes of action.
What’s remarkable about New York’s performance was the fact its leading scorer and MVP candidate only scored nine points. Carmelo Anthony’s streak of 20-plus point games was snapped at 31 but the team win was sweet. Despite falling below the double digit mark, the All-Star passed the 17,000-point mark for his career.
Tyson Chandler successfully completed back-to-back games with 20 boards while the Knicks outrebounded Sacramento 52-28.
At 30-15, New York has taken advantage of the home floor advantage with four straight victories at the Garden.
Knick of the Night:
Smith caught fire in the second half and connected on 7-of-14 treys en route to a 25-point outing. He only played 21 minutes and added six boards and four assists to a terrific box score total.
Since trailing 18-6 early in the first quarter, the Knicks outscored the Kings 114-63 during the rest of the game. The squad fell one 3-pointer short of tying the franchise record for most downtown shots and just missed on another record for largest margin of victory (48).
The Knicks will enjoy a day off for Super Bowl Sunday before returning to Madison Square Garden to conclude the homestand against the Pistons on Monday night.