Kings rout lethargic Knicks, snap three-game skid
NEW YORK – Mike D’Antoni warned his players this could happen and told reporters before the game it was a concern.
Then his New York Knicks went out and confirmed every one of his fears.
Beno Udrih took advantage of the lethargic Knicks’ tired legs to score 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting, and the Sacramento Kings snapped a three-game losing streak with a 93-83 victory Friday night.
With little time to rest after a week out West, the Knicks were flat – then flattened.
“We just didn’t have it – everybody,” D’Antoni said.
Rookie DeMarcus Cousins added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve Carl Landry had 15 points for the Kings, now 1-3 on their six-game road trip. Perhaps it’s not surprising the victory came here: They have won four in a row at Madison Square Garden.
Tyreke Evans managed just nine points on 4-of-15 shooting in his return to the lineup after missing three games with a sprained left ankle, but the Kings didn’t need much from their star guard on a night when the Knicks couldn’t do anything offensively.
“I think today was the first game we played really good defense,” Udrih said. “You know, to keep the Knicks that low in scoring, it’s a good sign for us, but hopefully we learn from this and keep playing defense like that, together. I mean we were everywhere. When somebody penetrated, the bigs helped. When the big guys got beaten, the little guys were there. We just played amazing D.”
Amare Stoudemire had 25 points and 13 rebounds but shot 6 of 22 for New York, which shot a season-worst 31.5 percent from the field. Perhaps still sapped after their trip to Phoenix, Los Angeles, Portland and Utah, the Knicks had no energy on the offensive end and were booed at home for the first time in a while.
In his first season in New York, Stoudemire now knows what D’Antoni meant when he warned the players they’d be tired after only one day off following the cross-country trip.
“I felt it for myself. It was definitely tough for me to get it going,” Stoudemire said. “I felt fatigued, the rhythm was off. We got in 6 o’clock in the morning from Utah, couldn’t really sleep that night, so our rhythm was a little bit off.”
The NBA’s highest-scoring team, averaging 107.8 points, didn’t break 60 until there were less than 9 minutes left. Point guard Raymond Felton was 2 of 15 for six points, while Wilson Chandler missed 10 of his 14 shots.
The Knicks concluded a solid 2-2 trip with Wednesday’s 131-125 loss in Utah. D’Antoni said he hoped his players got rest once returning, but also was concerned they might not be sharp against the worst of the West.
Sure enough, the Knicks were sluggish, managing just 15 points in the first quarter and hearing boos while trailing by 15 in the first half. They needed a late flurry just to avoid their worst first half of the season and the Kings led 46-42 at the break.
The boos grew louder in the third quarter, when the Knicks went 5 for 21 and managed only 16 points. Udrih scored nine in the period, including a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left that made it 69-58 headed to the fourth.
“He had a great game,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “I thought he did a really great job offensively and defensively. We couldn’t afford to take him out. He was really holding it together at both ends for us. He’s a slick little dude.”
Udrih then converted a three-point play to open the scoring in the final quarter for a 14-point advantage, and by then it was clear there would be no New York run on this night. The Knicks did get it down to nine later in the period, but Landry made a free throw before consecutive 3-pointers from Udrih and Evans made it 89-73 and sent most of the fans home.
Toney Douglas had 21 points off the bench for the Knicks, who lost center Ronny Turiaf to a sore hip after just 16 minutes.
Notes: D’Antoni said injured forward Danilo Gallinari, who has missed the last five games with a sprained left knee, would practice this weekend in hopes of playing Monday against Phoenix. … Carmelo Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, was at the game, but had nothing to say about his client’s situation. Though the Nets and Nuggets appear close to a deal, Knicks president Donnie Walsh said he was only aware of that because of what he’s read, and said his plans for upgrading the roster haven’t changed since the season began. “The team out there is the strategy,” he said before the game, pointing to the court. “And then we have (salary cap) room next year and the year after. We want to build this team. Period. That’s what we’ve been doing.” But maybe Walsh hasn’t given up yet on a deal. ESPN.com reported the Knicks will trade forward Anthony Randolph to an unspecified team within the next couple of weeks for a first-round pick, which could be used as part of another trade. Randolph, who has drawn interest from Minnesota, said he was unaware of any deal and hadn’t heard anything from his agent, Bill Duffy, who also was at the game. … D’Antoni said he stayed up late Thursday to watch Stoudemire on the Late Show with David Letterman, where the All-Star told the host that the players do in fact listen to the coach. “He doesn’t listen to me,” D’Antoni said with a laugh. “He was nice, though, very diplomatic.”
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