Reeling Kings seek to end eight-game slide versus Knicks

NBA

The Sacramento Kings posted the first of seven wins in an eight-game stretch by defeating the New York Knicks last month.

Unfortunately for the Kings, they answered that sizzling run by cooling down considerably. They have dropped eight in a row heading into Thursday’s road encounter with the Knicks.

De’Aaron Fox, who averages team-best totals in points (22.5) and assists (7.1), scored 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter of Sacramento’s 127-118 setback to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. He had 22 points and seven assists in the Kings’ 103-94 victory over New York on Jan. 22.

Harrison Barnes, who collected 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists versus the Knicks, scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor versus Brooklyn. The strong performance on Tuesday was a welcome one for Barnes, who made just 12 of 39 attempts in his previous five games.

Rookie Tyrese Haliburton scored 23 points for the second consecutive contest on Tuesday. He also had nine assists, five rebounds and three steals and committed just one turnover.

“My confidence is growing by the day. I just need to understand what is needed by me and that’s just to be who I am,” the 20-year-old Haliburton said. “Don’t be hesitant, I’m (playing) for a reason, right? Coach puts me in early, obviously because he trusts me. So I’ve got to take advantage of that and just be me.”

Haliburton soon could find himself inserted into the starting lineup in place of the struggling Buddy Hield, who has made three or fewer field goals in four of his last six games. Haliburton is shooting 49.5 percent from the floor and 44.2 from 3-point range on the season, while Hield owns 37.2 and 36.4 percentages, respectively.

“I know we’ve lost eight in a row and we’ve got to get off this, but I’d like to see a little bit more,” Kings coach Luke Walton said of a potential lineup change. “We were having some really good success with how that team was playing before, so I’d like to get a little more of a sample size before making any major moves like that.”

The Knicks were making major moves in the standings by winning four of their previous five games before dropping a 114-106 decision to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.

Prior to the game, Julius Randle was informed that he received his first career invitation to the All-Star Game.

“Everything you could dream of; it just seemed like it all came to fruition,” Randle said after recording 25 points and 10 rebounds versus the Warriors. “It was amazing, honestly, and everything that I signed up for. And goals that I wrote down when I decided to come here and play for the Knicks. It’s all happening.”

Randle is making it all happen on the court, as his career-high averages in points (23.3), rebounds (10.9) and assists (5.5) lead the Knicksin all three categories. He had 26 points and 15 boards in the previous encounter versus the Kings.

Elfrid Payton had 20 points on Tuesday, marking his seventh straight double-digit scoring performance and ninth in 10 outings.

–Field Level Media

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