With a windmill flourish, the Kings changed the narrative of their still-young season Sunday night.
De’Aaron Fox had a big fast-break dunk in the waning minutes as the Kings dominated the New York Knicks in a 113-92 win at Madison Square Garden. Fox finished with 24 points, Buddy Hield scored 22 and the Kings got their second win in a row after an 0-5 start.
It was something new for the 2-5 Kings – an easy win over the hapless 1-6 Knicks.
Sacramento sprinted out of the gates, hitting 5 of 12 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Kings built a 32-23 lead. More important, the Kings controlled the boards, grabbing 14 while the Knicks had just eight. The dominance continued in the second quarter as Sacramento extended the lead to 61-41. For the first time all year, the Kings outscored their opponent in the third quarter, 29-23.
The keys: Sacramento outrebounded the Knicks 49-39 and took better care of the ball, with 13 turnovers.
The Kings have two nights off in Toronto as they prep for a game with the Raptors on Wednesday night.
The Walton family’s Grateful weekend
There were a few familiar faces sitting courtside as the Kings warmed up. The father of Kings coach Luke Walton, Bill Walton, and stepmother, Lori Walton, sat with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead. A Brooklyn native, Hart was enjoying a night off from touring with Dead & Company. The band, mostly composed of Grateful Dead members, played two sold-out nights at MSG on Thursday and Friday, with the elder Waltons in attendance. Luke Walton has his own connection with the Dead, with a right-arm tattoo featuring four of the Dead’s dancing skeletons – one for each of his brothers. Bill chatted courtside before the game but amicably declined to talk about his son’s job. This is just the Walton family supporting one of their own.
“We get good family support wherever we go,” Luke Walton said. “The NBA season, you’re on the road a lot, so any time you can have friends and family around, it’s a nice mini break. But they know and we know we’re here on business. We’re trying to win a game.”
Walton wore his dark-purple Kings sweatshirt five rows opposite the Kings’ bench; his wife wore a sparkling Grateful Dead shirt.
Coming back from a slow start
The baffling part of the Kings’ slow start has been that they returned many of the key players from their 39-win campaign last season. Walton was asked why the team struggled in the first two weeks with many of the same personnel.
“It’s tough to win games in this league,” he said. “We feel very good about what our team is doing, the chemistry, the way they’re practicing, the habits they’re building. Five games, six games into the season, it wasn’t showing in the win-loss column. But we also know and value the importance of what we’re working on every day and know it’s going to pay off in the long run.”
Rounding into form
It’s hard to believe, but the Kings are almost 10 percent of the way through their regular-season schedule. During the team’s five-game skid to start the season, it was easy to talk about statistical samples. But things are falling into line, at least on the stat sheet. Fox is averaging 18.6 points and 6.3 assists per game. Hield, whose shooting was ice cold to start the season, bumped his scoring average up to 17.1 points per game.
Kings injury report
Marvin Bagley III (thumb) and Harry Giles III (knee) both were listed as inactive for Sunday’s game.
Sacramento Kings upcoming schedule
Nov. 6 at Toronto Raptors
Nov. 8 at Atlanta Hawks
Nov. 12 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Nov. 15 at Los Angeles Lakers
Nov. 17 vs. Boston Celtics