The New York Knicks continued their downward spiral in a season that began with a promising outlook but has since made a turn for the worse.
On Sunday evening DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings came into Madison Square Garden and put together their best defensive performance of the season with an 88-80 victory over the struggling Knicks, giving New York and their fans further reason to hope for change within the organization this upcoming offseason.
The Knicks were short-handed, playing without their leading scorer and All-Star, Carmelo Anthony, who was dealing with a lingering headache, and the Kings were able to take advantage, holding the Knicks to 35 percent shooting and forcing 14 turnovers.
The defensive performance was surprising for a King’s team that allows a league-worst 109.6 points per game.
Both big men for both teams came out to play Sunday as DeMarcus led the way for his Kings with 24 points and 20 boards, while Robin Lopez had a strong performance with 22 and 20 of his own.
Lopez, however, was the only starter that came out ready for battle for the Knicks, whose only other starter to score more than 6 points was rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis who finished with 13 points on mediocre 6-for-17 shooting.
One highlight for the Knicks — and something to keep an eye on — was the performance of rookie Jerian Grant, who pitched in 14 points, played big minutes, and should please fans and coaches that expected more from the Notre Dame standout when the Knicks traded for him in the first round of last year’s draft.
The Knicks returned home from their longest road trip in terms of games played in 10 years, going 2-4 during the trip away from the Garden — their last home game prior to Sunday’s matchup was a March 5 win against the Detroit Pistons.
According to Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis, the Knicks arrived early Sunday from their lengthy road trip and looked sluggish as they arrived, which seemed to spill over onto the court during game time. The team managed a pathetic 12 points in the first quarter on 5-22 shooting.
The Knicks are now 0-8 this season when Carmelo is not in the lineup, and his recent rumors have many believing he may be on his way out of New York this upcoming offseason if he agrees to waive his no-trade clause.
Despite Anthony openly stating he has no plans to leave New York and claiming his is “committed” to team president Phil Jackson and his plans for the future, many believe it will benefit both parties if Anthony moves on to a contender, allowing the Knicks to focus on building a team around promising rookie Kristaps Porzingis.
The Knicks now fall to 28-43 and sit at third in the Atlantic Division with no real shot at a playoff spot, leaving fans with the hope of a big offseason as the only reality to cheer about.
The Kings find themselves in a similar situation as the Knicks, improving to just 27-42 with the win Sunday, making them good enough for the eleventh seed in the Western Conference and 7.5 games out of the eighth and final play off spot with 13 games remaining in the regular season.
Recent rumors have linked their starting point guard Rajon Rando (who will be a free-agent this summer) as a possible target for teams–like the Knicks– that are in need of a point guard, and one has to believe that he’d love to jump ship and join a contender for another shot at a title than play with a team that fails to compete for a playoff spot.
The Kings go on to face the Chicago Bulls in Chicago tomorrow night, while the Knicks have off until Wednesday when they will also be matching up against the Bulls in the Windy City.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)