Knicks takeaway from Thursday’s 122-117 loss to Kings, including short comeback without Jalen Brunson

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March 9, 2023;  Sacramento, California, United States;  New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) drives to the basket against Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Huerter (9) in the first quarter at Golden Center 1.

March 9, 2023; Sacramento, California, United States; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) drives to the basket against Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Huerter (9) in the first quarter at Golden Center 1. / Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks erased a 20-point deficit without Jalen Brunson in the second half, but ultimately lost 122-117 at the Kings on Thursday night.

Jalen Brunson returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore foot. He went with him Julius Randle, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson in the starting line.

Here are the takeaways….

– The Knicks took a 5-1 lead, but the Kings turned things around thanks to a Knicks turnover. Sacramento, directed by Damontis Saboniswould take a 23-12 lead with five minutes to go when the coach Tom Thibodeau called a time period. The second unit of Josh Hart, Isaiah Hartenstein, Immanuel Quickley along with Brunson and Randle they led the Knicks charge. However, the Kings stopped the comeback to take a 30-23 lead after the first frame.

The story of the first quarter was the Knicks’ ability to get offensive rebounds (6 to 1) and second chance points. But the buckets were not falling for New York. There were no good looks from three and high percentage shots. Randle was 1-for-7, Barrett 0-for-4, and Brunson 3-for-6. The Knicks were 3-for-11 inside the arc, 4-for-13 from three.

The Knicks shot just 29 percent (7-of-24) while the Kings shot an efficient 13-of-20 (65 percent) in the first quarter.

– The unit of Obi Toppin, Barret, Hart, Quickley and Hartenstein started the second and attacked the paint. The Knicks were outscored 20-6 in the paint in the first quarter and were looking to correct that. A 6-2 run stopped Sacramento. The Kings would go on a 10-1 run, mostly because the Knicks couldn’t buy a shot. At one point, they abandoned shooting the three but even layups were going off the mark. Hart’s hustle and defense kept the score close, but a 13-0 run – led by Monk Malikeight points – giving the Kings a 65-45 lead with less than two minutes left in the half.

The Knicks went into the half down 69-53. The Knicks shot a better 11-of-27 (41 percent) in the second quarter, but were just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. Brunson led the Knicks with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Randle’s struggles continued as he entered the half with just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting. Hart’s efforts should be noted. He had seven points but eight rebounds (five offensive), four assists and two steals.

-The Knicks announced before the start of the third quarter that Brunson would not return to the game after rehabbing his left leg. He had missed the previous two games with the same issue.

A 7-0 run helped cut the Kings’ lead to 79-65 with 7:46 left in the third. Offensive rebounds and well-timed threes helped New York cut the deficit to just 11 with three minutes left. With Robinson on the bench with foul trouble, the Knicks played small and cut the Kings’ lead to 89-84 with less than a minute to go. The Knicks had a chance to cut the lead further, but Randle would miss three of four free throws down the field, and New York entered the fourth quarter down 91-84

The Knicks’ shooting improved in the third, going up to 48 percent. On the other hand, the Kings shot badly. They shot just 38 percent (9-of-21). Again, the Knicks dominated the boards (50-39) up to this point and got to the line more. The Knicks shot 18-of-29 from the charity stripe while Sacramento was 13-of-17 so far.

– The Knicks started the fourth quarter with a 7-1 run to extend the Kings’ lead to 92-91 when coach Mike Brown called a timeout. The Knicks’ ability, or Kings’ inability, to get rebounds helped them tie the game at 96. But De’Aaron Fox took over, scoring seven straight Kings points. The Knicks would keep it close with unbelievable runs, but without Brunson leading the offense it was difficult for New York to complete the comeback. The game pretty much ended when Randle – with the Knicks down four – dribbled and turned it over when he was double-teamed. The Knicks dropped the second straight after losing 122-117.

A rough shooting night for the Knicks as Barrett led the Knicks with 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting. Randle had 23 points on 8-of-22 shooting. Quickley was 1-of-11 for three pointers. The Knicks also shot 13-of-50 (26 percent) from three.

One positive note was Hart’s performance. He tied a franchise record for guards with his eight offensive rebounds (from 1973-74). He finished the night with nine points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.


What next

The Knicks continue their West Coast road trip on Saturday when they take on the Clippers at 4 p.m.

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