Kings shooting to start streak versus Knicks
Still reeling in the wake of a critical home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Sacramento Kings get a boost from the schedule-maker Monday when they face the New York Knicks for the first of two times in a six-day stretch.
The last-place Knicks get no such break Monday, facing a Western Conference playoff contender on the second day of a back-to-back, having been humiliated 128-107 by the Clippers in the opener of the double dip.
The Knicks trailed 82-46 at halftime in Los Angeles.
If there was a positive to be taken from the blowout, it was that coach David Fizdale was able to spread the minutes in the opener of the back-to-back. No Knick played more than 29 minutes.
Contrast that to the Kings, whose top four starters -- Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox -- averaged 37.6 minutes per player in the club's hard-fought losses to Milwaukee and the Clippers on Wednesday and Friday.
Hield did his best to put a positive spin on the damaging losses for a franchise seeking to end a 12-season playoff drought.
"We've got 20 more games," he noted to reporters. "It's not like it's the end of the world. We could go off and win five or six in a row and make this thing fun again. We're not done yet."
The Kings (31-31) have fallen three games out of the last playoff spot in the West, but the schedule sets up nicely for a bit of a run this week.
In between the two games against the Knicks, Sacramento will host Boston, which has lost five of six and will be playing the night after a showdown at Golden State.
The Kings will play at least the upcoming week without star rookie Marvin Bagley III, who sprained his left knee in Wednesday's loss to Milwaukee.
Monday's matchup comes exactly one year after the Kings needed a 3-pointer from Skal Labissiere (since dealt to Portland) with 1.6 seconds remaining to pull out a 102-99 home win over the Knicks.
In the Knicks, the Kings will see a team that was entirely uncompetitive in Los Angeles on Sunday. New York had to outscore mostly Clippers backups 61-46 in the second half just to make the final score somewhat respectable.
The poor performance came shortly after the Knicks presented Henry Ellenson with the good news that he'd be retained for the rest of the season.
Waived by the Pistons last month, Ellenson was impressive in a 10-day tryout with the club, scoring 13 points apiece against Orlando and Cleveland.
That was enough for the Knicks to sign the third-year pro to a contract that includes a team option for $1.6 million for next season.
"We all thought he came in the right way. He fit the way we wanted to do things," Fizdale said of the No. 18 pick of the 2016 draft. "Another young guy, another young first-rounder we want to mess around with and see if we can grow. He's already showing some real promise and really taking to what we're doing."
Ellenson did little to cushion the Knicks' fall on Sunday, recording five points and three rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 4, 2019