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SPORTS

Brunson, Hart Help Knicks Rally from 21-Point Deficit to Beat Kings, Snap Three-Game Skid

NEW YORK (AP) — Jalen Brunson had 35 points and 11 assists, Josh Hart scored a season-high 31 points and the New York Knicks erased a 21-point deficit and beat the Sacramento Kings 120-109 on Thursday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Hours after announcing that Julius Randle would have right shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the season, the Knicks showed why they might still be dangerous without him. Hart shook off a sprained right wrist to shoot 14 for 19 and add nine rebounds and eight assists, and Donte DiVincenzo scored 21 points.

“For us as a team, we started very slow and eventually got it picked up,” Brunson said. “And definitely the morale was a little low, when one of your guys goes down and he’s fighting to come back and just unable to be where he wants to be.”

The Knicks tied Orlando for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 45-31. The Magic own the head-to-head tiebreaker and would have home-court advantage in a first-round series if they finish with the same record.

De’Aaron Fox had 29 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Kings, who missed a chance to tie New Orleans and Phoenix for sixth in the West. They had won two in a row. Keegan Murray scored 18 points.

New York Knicks’ Josh Hart (3) drives against Sacramento Kings’ Domantas Sabonis (10) and Trey Lyles (41) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, April 4, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Domantas Sabonis finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Kings, who opened a four-game road trip, with back-to-back games against the Pelicans and Suns when they get home next week.

It was a tough start to the day for the Knicks, who announced in the morning that Randle would need surgery for the injury he sustained in a victory over Miami on Jan. 27. The Knicks looked like one of the strongest teams in the league at that point, when they would match the second-most victories for any month in franchise history by finishing 14-2.

And it seemed like it was going to be a tough night when the Kings blitzed them for the first 15 minutes of the game, racing to a 46-25 lead while making 19 of their first 28 shots (68%). But the Knicks answered with a 16-2 run to get into the game, then took control of it in the fourth quarter.

Fox’s 3-pointer gave Sacramento a 95-92 lead with 9:55 to play before Brunson and Hart each converted three-point plays in a 13-0 run that gave the Knicks a 105-95 lead on Brunson’s 3-pointer midway through the fourth.

“Guys played very, very unselfishly, just made the right play,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It was a big hole to climb out of but we found a way to win.”

Sabonis scored before Brunson had two straight baskets to push the lead to 12 and Sacramento never threatened again.

Sacramento rode a 7-for-9 start from 3-point range to a 35-20 lead after one quarter. But Kings coach Mike Brown said his players started passing up some open shots, leading to mistakes that gave the Knicks confidence.

“And that’s a product of not consistently doing what we did to start the game,” Brown said. “Move it easy to the open guy and if you’re open let it fly.”

UP NEXT

Kings: Visit Boston on Friday night.

Knicks: Visit Chicago on Friday night.


By BRIAN MAHONEY AP Basketball Writer

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