Kings storm back, beat Knicks in OT to end skid
NEW YORK – The New York crowd that adored Omri Casspi definitely left with an appreciation of Tyreke Evans.
Evans led a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback, Kevin Martin scored nine of his 17 points in overtime, and the Sacramento Kings beat the Knicks 118-114 on Tuesday night to end a six-game losing streak.
Evans finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, scoring 12 points in the final 7 minutes of regulation after the Knicks had built a 15-point lead, repeatedly finding his way into the lane.
“I think the people in New York got a little idea of why we like Tyreke so much,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “The Garden got kind of quiet when he did that little two-step slippery thing he does. It’s something you don’t see very often.”
Donte Greene added 24 points and Casspi, cheered throughout by a large Jewish contingent, finished with 18, just two after halftime.
Wilson Chandler scored a career-high 35 points for the Knicks, who have lost three straight and six of seven to bring a 19-32 record into the All-Star break. David Lee finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Though not as impressive as the Kings’ 35-point comeback to beat Chicago earlier this season, this one was also unlikely because they showed no signs of stopping the Knicks until midway through the fourth quarter.
New York opened a 98-83 lead with 7:36 to play.
Then Evans and Greene combined for Sacramento’s next 20 points as the Kings cut it to 105-103 on Evans’ basket with 56 seconds remaining. Evans then grabbed the rebound of a Knicks miss, drove into the lane and fed Jason Thompson for a dunk that tied it at 105 with 25 seconds left.
“It went from 15 to 7 in about 30 seconds and then we got tight and didn’t play well and they beat us,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Somehow our spirit is all messed up.”
New York was just 7 of 23 in the fourth quarter against a team that has given up 112 or more points in five straight games.
“We just kept on believing and we knew it was just a matter of time,” Martin said. “The Knicks keep on attacking the basket and they let you back in the game, and that’s what our game plan was in the last six minutes of the game and overtime.”
Martin, coming off the bench as he plays his way back into form after missing 32 games with a broken left wrist, hit a pair of jumpers early in overtime. He then sank two free throws to give the Kings the lead for good with 3:07 remaining and followed that with a 3-pointer after Evans found him in transition for a 114-110 lead with 2:44 left.
“They just weren’t doing a good job of getting back,” Evans said. “Every time I got the rebound I pushed it and, when I saw an open lane, I attacked it or kicked it out to an open guy.”
New York finally forced him to miss a jumper in the final seconds, but he grabbed his own rebound and made two clinching free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining.
Thompson finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Al Harrington scored 17 for New York, Jeffries had 13 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season, and Nate Robinson had 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting, also leaving the game at one point after having the wind knocked out of him.
An otherwise forgettable game between non-contenders drew some extra attention in New York, which has a larger Jewish population than Israel, because of Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA. The Knicks called it “Jewish Heritage Night” and Casspi heard loud cheers and chants during the game while keeping Sacramento close in the first half.
“This is not a regular game for me and it was important for me to start strong … show the coach and everybody that I am here to play and focus on basketball,” Casspi said. “In the second half, we did great stuff.”
The break comes at a good time for the banged-up Knicks. New York played without guard Larry Hughes (sprained left big toe), and Jeffries left in the first quarter with a lower back contusion but was back in the second.
Robinson has been dealing with hamstring and groin injuries, and forward Danilo Gallinari, New York’s best shooter, injured his right forearm in a third-quarter fall. He threw up an airball on his first free throw afterward, then shot the second left-handed and missed before leaving the game for good.
Robinson is scheduled to defend his title in the All-Star slam dunk contest, while Gallinari is in the rookie challenge and the 3-point contest. X-rays on Gallinari’s forearm were negative.
NOTES: Greene botched the final seconds of the first quarter, throwing an inbounds pass that hit the sideline to give the ball back to the Knicks with 3.5 seconds left, then bumping Robinson as he was dribbling nowhere near the basket. Robinson hit two free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining. … Curly Neal and Moo Moo Evans of the Harlem Globetrotters, whose tour is in New York, were at the game.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.