3 hot takeaways from Knicks’ tough win over Kings

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Quentin Grimes #6 of the New York Knicks (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Quentin Grimes #6 of the New York Knicks (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /
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The New York Knicks got a hard-fought 112-99 victory Sunday night against the surprisingly good Sacramento Kings. The Knicks improved to 14-13 and extended their winning streak to four games.

Coming into the game, I wondered how the Knicks would perform against a Kings team coming off a wild win in Cleveland where they ended the game on a 19-0 run to complete a fourth quarter comeback. Luckily, the Knicks didn’t have to deal with the Kings’ best player De’Aaron Fox, who missed his second straight game with a foot injury.

After a great first quarter, the game would get messy with both teams struggling from behind the arc and turning the ball over 17 times each.

New York has Julius Randle mostly to thank as he once again got off to a hot start scoring 17 of his total 27 points in the first quarter. While Randle’s great night was cut short after he got ejected in the third quarter, there were a lot of other positives to take from this game as the Knicks continued to improve and find consistency.

3 takeaways from the New York Knicks’ fourth straight win

1. The Knicks’ defense won them another game

One of the many overarching themes of the season has been the Knicks’ struggles defensively. What we’ve seen during this winning streak is a complete 180 from New York’s defense during the first 20 games.

Over the last six games, the Knicks have held each opponent to less than 23 points in the first quarter. It was especially impressive last night given that the Kings have been one of the best scoring teams of the season so far. The Knicks held the Kings to just 99 points on 39.8% shooting and have held opponents to 92.8 points per game during their winning streak.

Now to be fair, the Kings were without Fox, who averages around 23 points per game. New York also played the Hawks who were missing three starters and a Hornets team that is still without the services of All-Star guard LaMelo Ball. Nevertheless, you beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, and the Knicks have done just that.

So, sure, the Knicks have caught a break as of late, but it’s the effort that really impresses me. A lot of this has to do with Quentin Grimes being inserted back into the starting lineup after dealing with injuries to start the year. Miles McBride, who is now in the rotation, has also been a menace on the defensive end and played a big part in Trae Young’s struggles last week.

If the Knicks can continue asserting themselves defensively, they will find themselves winning a lot more games. With their next two games coming against a struggling Chicago Bulls team, the Knicks have a chance to really make up some ground in the Eastern Conference. Standing just 1.5 games back of the fourth spot in the East, it couldn’t have been a better time for New York to figure things out defensively. You just have to hope it lasts.