By: Malaika Bobino
Sacramento, CA – It was an amazing comeback but you had to be there to see it. After blowing a twenty-seven point lead in the first half, the New York Knicks rallied back behind J.R. Smith who finished the night with 28 points. With the clock running out James Johnson made an incredible three-point shot at the buzzer for the win.
“Isaiah [Thomas] hit John [Salmons], but he couldn’t take the shot, he was crowded,” said Johnson. “He looked at Francisco [Garcia] as his first option and I was his second read. There was no thinking after that, I had to shot it. I knew it was good as soon as it left my hand.”
The Kings beat the Knicks 106-105 and for the third straight game, Sacramento has dished out 28 or more assists. In the last three games they are averaging 29.0 apg. A depleted New York team were without starter Carmelo Anthony (hyperextended knee), Raymond Felton (fractured finger), Rasheed Wallace (sore left foot), Iman Shumpert (torn left ACL/meniscus) and Amar’e Stoudemire (left knee debridement). But all injured players were in attendance to see the Kings dominate early.
“We gambled a bit when the ball came out of the deep corner for the steal,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “But we came up empty and Johnson was able to get a free catch and shoot it.”
“Well, it’s disappointing because we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position,” said Jason Kidd. “In that first half we didn’t play any defense and in the second half we had the chance to win the ball game. I had Tyson [Chandler] wide open with an easy pass but I turned it over and they came and capitalized on it.”
Sacramento played a brilliant first half with good ball movement but allowed Smith to outplay them in the second half. J.R recorded a season-high while rookie Chris Copeland finished with 23 points and Chandler had 21 points and 18 rebounds. New York came out after halftime playing solid defense. They outscored the Kings 31-16 and pulled within 87-81 heading into the fourth but Sacramento did not give up.
“We got stagnant out there in the second half,” Kings coach Keith Smart said. “We played great early on but the game quickly changed in the second half.”
Sacramento shot a season-high 15-of-30 three pointers. Jimmer Fredette came off the bench scoring 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting and added four assists in the first 12 minutes of play in the first half. The bench picked up where the starters left off knocking down three’s left and right. The Kings had a total of seven players shoot 3-point shots that all went in.
DeMarcus Cousins returned to the starting lineup after missing two games. He finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds recording his ninth double-double of the season. Isaiah Thomas also returned to the staring lineup, he started the first nine games of the season but was replaced by Aaron Brooks. The recent changes by the coach have been good for the team.
“I thought that Isaiah would provide what I needed,” said Smart. “We had DeMarcus back and I needed someone to be a little wise and strong and be able to play there… I thought it gave us the right boost we needed.”