The New York Knicks started a critical five-game trip in disastrous fashion.
The games are dwindling for the Knicks to make the playoffs as they look to recover Wednesday night versus the Sacramento Kings.
New York (29-42) had its season-high eight-game win streak end with Sunday’s 106-100 home defeat to Cleveland and now will try to avoid dropping three in a row after Tuesday’s 127-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Knicks gave up 51 points in the third quarter, their worst defensive period in franchise history. They are three games behind eighth-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference with 11 remaining.
”I thought we came out ready to play,” New York coach Mike Woodson said. ”I mean, we held them to 14 points in the first quarter, and then that second and third quarter, all hell broke loose. We just didn’t have any answer for them from a defensive standpoint.”
The blowout loss allowed Woodson to rest his starters for most of the fourth quarter to prepare for this game. J.R. Smith played two minutes in the period and Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler each logged four, with Anthony scoring nine points in the quarter to finish with 29.
Anthony had 36 points and 11 rebounds the last time these teams met, a 106-101 overtime loss Feb. 12. The Kings (25-45) know they will have their hands full again.
"They’re not going to surprise you with what they’re doing," Sacramento coach Michael Malone said. "You know Carmelo’s going to have the ball on the left elbow on an iso, he’s going to have the ball, high pick-and-roll, and he’s going to have the ball in the post. But now the question is can you stop it?"
One player very familiar with Anthony is fellow Baltimore native Rudy Gay, who was also a former division rival during his days with Toronto. Gay said there is no easy answer on how he plans to contain Anthony.
"(He’s) a guy that’s going to take a lot of shots, just try to make each one of them tough," Gay said. "He’s going to make his baskets, he’s going to get at least his average, he’s a scorer. And they’re a team that features him."
New York will try to improve to 6-10 in the second halves of back-to-back games and this time will have Smith, who missed the last meeting with a fractured left cheek bone.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has posted seven straight double-doubles, averaging 22.3 points and 14.1 rebounds in that span. He had 32 points and 12 boards in Sunday’s 124-107 win over Milwaukee.
Point guard Isaiah Thomas is questionable with a right quad contusion suffered in that contest.
"If he can’t play, obviously we’ll have Ray McCallum and then we might have to have some point forward with Rudy Gay or somebody else handling the ball at times," Malone said.
Malone also said he would give more playing time Wednesday to Royce White, who trying to make a new name for himself after the former Rockets first-round pick never played for Houston due to an anxiety disorder. White played the final 48 seconds against the Bucks and the last 56 two nights earlier versus San Antonio.
"We’re going to get Royce in the game prior to the last two minutes of the fourth quarter to give him a real look to see what he can do," Malone said.