The Sacramento Kings—playing without injured point guard Isaiah Thomas—trailed by as much as 24 points in the third quarter Wednesday night before making a spirited comeback, albeit one that fell short in a 107-99 loss to the New York Knicks at Sleep Train Arena.
With Thomas nursing a bruised right quad, second-round draft pick Ray McCallum made his first NBA start and logged 43 minutes, finishing with 10 points, five assists, six rebounds and only two turnovers. However, he was only 3-of-14 from the floor.
Carmelo Anthony buried a 3-pointer with 6:17 remaining in the third quarter that put the Knicks up 74-50 before Sacramento (25-46) began to chip away at the lead, climbing to within two at 96-94 with 5:30 to go on a three-point play by DeMarcus Cousins.
But the Knicks responded with five straight points—a 3-pointer from J.R. Smith and a dunk by Amar’e Stoudemire—to extend the lead out to seven and the Kings never threatened again.
With the win a night after being humiliated by the Lakers, the Knicks improved to 30-42 and got back to within two games of the Hawks for the final playoff spot in the woeful Eastern Conference.
Smith tied a Knicks franchise record with nine 3-pointers on the night as New York was a sizzling 15-for-26 from behind the arc.
With McCallum and first-round pick Ben McLemore together in the starting lineup for the first time, it marked the first time Sacramento started two rookie guards in the same game since April 8, 2012, when Thomas and Jimmer Fredette were in the lineup against Houston.
New York was 40-for-73 (54.8 percent) overall, 15-for-26 (57.7 percent) from 3-point range and 12-for-13 (92.3 percent) from the line. Sacramento was 33-for-69 (47.8 percent), 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) and 27-for-35 (77.1 percent).
The Knicks outrebounded the Kings 34-32 and outscored Sacramento 18-2 on the fast break. The Kings scored 17 points off 14 New York turnovers, while the Knicks got 15 points off 11 Sacramento miscues.
The Kings open a three-game road trip on Friday at Oklahoma City at 5 p.m. Pacific, before going on to Dallas Saturday and New Orleans on Monday.